Joe Torre is now MLB’s umpire czar, and he told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times that he wants to change their relationship to the game:
The former Dodgers manager who now serves as Major League Baseball’s vice president of baseball operations said he wanted umpires to feel as much a part of the game as players and vowed to do everything he could to support them. “We’ve pretty much isolated umpires from being a part of this game because they’re always out there and easy to criticize, and I just didn’t think that was right,” Torre said.
I don’t even know what this means. It seems to me that a lot of the problems we’ve had in recent years has been umpires wanting to be too great a part of the game and to draw attention to themselves when a player takes issue with them. They are officials. They should be respected, without question, but I don’t think I’d want to send the message that they are “as much a part of the game as players.” I want them to be like the college kid who refs my son’s soccer games. He shows up, he does his job and he doesn’t expect to join in for snacks afterward.
I think a ton of good would be accomplished if two things were communicated loudly and clearly: (1) to players and managers: you can ask questions and appeal respectfully, but you will not get anywhere chewing out umpires. And if you make a habit of it, you’re going to get fined; and (2) to umpires: if your call is questioned and if anyone gets in your face over it, take the high road and don’t bark back.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.