According to Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 AM in Seattle, the Mariners have signed general manager Jack Zduriencik to a multi-year contract extension.
The Mariners finished 40 games under .500 last season and sit 20 games under .500 here in 2011, but Zduriencik is widely regarded as one of baseball’s most forward-thinking executives and Seattle’s higher-ups clearly have confidence that he’s leading the youth-heavy club in the right direction.
Zduriencik — or “Jack Z” if you’re not big on spelling things out — began his professional baseball career back in 1973 as a player with the White Sox’s affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. He never made it to the major leagues and eventually moved into an off-field role, serving as an area scout for the Mets from 1983-1989.
Zduriencik bounced around in the 90s before latching on as the Brewers’ director of scouting near the end of the decade. That gig led to a front office job with Milwaukee in 2006, and in October 2008 the Mariners made him their general manager and executive vice president of baseball operations. Now he’ll remain in that role for another several seasons, and will look to bring winning baseball back to the Great Northwest.
Zduriencik has misfired on some deals, namely the Chone Figgins free-agent signing, but he has a knack for scouting and player evaluation, and would seem to be the right fit going forward for the rebuilding M’s.
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.