The Cubs are turning a new page. New team president, new GM and soon a new manager. It’s fresh start city at Wrigley. So the last thing they probably want is to deal with bad old business like Carlos Zambrano.
Theo Epstein, however, has continued to leave the door open to the possibility of Zambrano returning to Chicago. His latest comment to that effect came after a meeting with Zambrano’s agent yesterday when he said that Zambrano will have a chance to “earn his way back” to staying with the team. Here’s Epstein, quoted by Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“I told him we’d give him the right to earn his way back to being a Cub. Nothing would be given to him.”
Can’t really take any other stance publicly, regardless of your actual intentions. Because, sure, it’s entirely possible that Epstein truly wants to simply cut this sunk cost and toxic presence from the roster. If he signals such an intention, however, he loses any chance of gaining anything — be it a marginal minor leaguer or a modicum of salary relief — from a team willing to take a chance on Big Z.
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.