ESPN is just fine with a three-hour Home Run Derby. After all, it gets to televise the proceedings. But the All-Star Game itself? Well, that’s FOX’s baby and that makes it fair game for the worldwide leader.
Jerry Crasnick’s piece on all of the stars skipping the game is currently leading the big features box on ESPN.com, with Crasnick spewing lines like the following: “big names bailing by the hour for Bahamas vacations, family cookouts or orthopedic consultations.” This comes two days after Buster Olney proposed the solution that players should decide in spring training whether to opt off the All-Star ballot.
It’s a shame, because Crasnick is better than this. There were three healthy players across both leagues who had the chance to go to the All-Star Game and pulled out: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Aramis Ramirez. Rivera missed time last week with a strained triceps, and while he was back pitching over the weekend, it’s hard to blame him for wanting to save his bullets. Ramirez would have been a last-minute injury replacement, but he had already made plans for the break and decided to follow through on them.
So, really, as usual, this all boils down to Jeter.
And doesn’t Jeter deserve a free pass just this once? This is the first time in 12 All-Star selections that he’s skipped the game. Between all of the postseason appearances, the All-Star appearances and off-the-field obligations, Jeter has had less time off between the months of February and October than any player in baseball these last 15 years. Let him have his little break.
Midsummer Mirage? All-Stars deserted this year’s Classic in droves? All-Star Game feeling snubbed? All-Star Game getting the cold shoulder? Players backing out of Midsummer Classic threatens showcase event for baseball?
It’s all just propaganda because ESPN would rather you watch it than FOX tonight.
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.