Heath Bell

Are the Padres asleep at the wheel?

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UPDATE: Obviously not.  The Padres have traded Mike Adams to the Rangers for left-hander Robbie Erlin and right-hander Joe Wieland.

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We know San Diego is about to shed Ryan Ludwick, but that’s likely to bring back a minimal return, probably from the Indians.  There hasn’t been anything hot and heavy on the bigger bait — Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Aaron Harang– with less than two hours left to go.

The Rangers likely took themselves out of the mix for both relievers by picking up Koji Uehara on Saturday, and the Angels have only minimal interest in Bell, a source told FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

It looks like the Cardinals and Phillies may be the best hope for the Padres to salvage the trade deadline.  The Cardinals are believed to be in on Bell, while the Phillies prefer Adams, who is cheaper in terms of salary and under control for 2012.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says the Yankees have inquired on Bell, who would take over as a setup man in front of Mariano Rivera, but there’s little optimism on a potential deal there.

The Red Sox might also be a long shot candidate to wind up with either Bell or Adams.  They wanted to address their rotation, but with Hiroki Kuroda declining to waive his no-trade and a Rich Harden trade falling through, they may try to bolster their pen instead.

As for Harang, it appears that the Padres are going to take their chances on re-signing him as a free eagent this winter.  FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal said he’s unlikely to be moved.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.