Every year a story comes out about the big binder full-o-love that Scott Boras puts together for his top free agent clients. Glossy and filled with over-the-top claims, they sound like an outrageous amount of fun.
More fun when they involve questionable dudes like Oliver Perez — remember how he was the next Sandy Koufax? — but I bet seeing legitimately great players talked up is fun too.
Prince Fielder gets the treatment this year. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN has the story.
There’s great stuff about the book itself — it’s “encased in a silver aluminum antimicrobial binder and features black cardstock dividers and metal rivets” — but of course the statistical projections and claims to glory are great fun too:
In the Projections portion of the book, Boras’ statistical analysts gaze into the future and point out that in five years, Fielder will have joined Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Mel Ott and Babe Ruth as one of six players with 400 homers, 1,000 RBIs and 1,000 walks through age 32. A few pages later, the book projects that Fielder will have 600 homers, 1,700 RBIs and 1,500 walks by age 37. Those totals would place him in the exclusive company of Ruth and Barry Bonds.
Most people think that Boras does these just as much (and maybe more) for the benefit of his clients’ egos and to impress prospective clients as he does to actually woo teams. Maybe so. But who cares? This stuff is fantastic.
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.