In leaving the Cubs and joining his brother Mike Maddux with the Rangers yesterday Greg Maddux described his new role as “helping the players and the coaches as much as possible” and serving as “another set of eyes.”
His title is officially special assistant to the general manager, which is the same job he had in Chicago, but the future Hall of Famer told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he plans to work extensively with pitchers in the majors and minors:
The first thing I’ve noticed about the Rangers is they have tremendous arms. They’ve got guys in the rotation and the bullpen that throw extremely hard and pitch up as well as any team in baseball. If the pitchers realize that if their pitch selection is good and they can control their emotions, they can have a lot of success.
I just like helping out. I like baseball and I like being around the game and around at the highest levels. Certainly the Rangers play at the highest level. I like the atmosphere, I like talking to players, I like being in the clubhouse, I like looking at game film. I like talking baseball.
Greg and Mike both talked about looking forward to working together, which they last did 20 years ago in winter ball, and Rangers pitchers have a pretty amazing opportunity to go to the ballpark each day and talk pitching with a pair of Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan, plus one of the game’s best pitching coaches in Mike Maddux.
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.
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.