Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals

The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: The Yankees had a less-than-fabulous weekend in Anaheim yet they extend their lead over Boston to three and a half. Which tells you everything you need to known about Boston’s weekend in St. Petersburg.  The Red Sox now lead the Rays by a mere three and a half in the wild card. And they have four games remaining against one another.

The skinny: If the Rays catch and beat the Sox, there are not enough bookend analogies in the world available to describe the horrifying beginning and end of Boston’s season.

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers keep winning and the other guys don’t. They’re up 10.5 over Chicago, eleven over Cleveland.

The skinny: “Verlander and Fister and pray for a twister …”  Eh, needs work.

AL WEST

The spread: No change over the weekend. Texas’ lead is two and a half.

The skinny: September 26-28th, Texas vs. Anaheim. Here’s hoping it’s still close.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies continue to lay waste. It’s a 12 game lead. The Braves are in desperate need of the Heimlich Maneuver. Their wild card lead over St. Louis is a mere 4.5 after getting swept.

The skinny: Philly lost yesterday, but really, it’s almost comical how much better they look than anyone else in the NL.

NL CENTRAL

The spread: The Brewers dropping two of three three of four to Philly combined with the Cards’ sweep of the Braves reduces St. Louis’ deficit to six games. But really, St. Louis is shooting for Atlanta.

The skinny: The Cardinals face the Phillies this weekend. First time I’ll be rooting for the Phillies all year.

NL WEST

The spread: The Diamondbacks extend their lead over the Giants to eight and a half games.

The skinny: The Giants are activating Barry Zito. That’s like putting your freshman quarterback in the game to get some reps. In other words, the competitive portion of this contest is over.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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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.

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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.

Braves acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Relief pitcher Luke Jackson #53 of the Texas Rangers  throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park on September 16, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Texas won 14-3. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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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.