The trade of Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins is official. Ken Rosenthal tweets some of the details:
- Zambrano waived his no-trade clause and his $19.25 million option for 2013 that would have kicked in if he finished in top four of the Cy Young vote. He’ll be a free agent next winter;
- He also settled grievance with the Cubs relating to his suspension for basically walking out on the team after a bad starts. He was originally suspended for 30 games without pay. He gets back 24 days of that, which amounts to $2.4 million;
- Finally, the deal now includes $100K bonus if he wins the Comeback Player of the Year in 2012.
The suspension thing may anger some people who wanted to see Zambrano punished for walking out on his team, but that’s just what happens when you have a negotiation over a no-trade clause. If the Cubs wanted it waived, they had to give him something over and above a trip to a different city.
The Comeback Player of the Year award thing is interesting too. I wouldn’t call it crazy. As we’ve mentioned before, the dimensions of the Marlins’ new ballpark are huge. Granted, we don’t know how a place will play until you actually play games there — the walls are short, so that may cut down on the pitcher friendliness — but if it does play big, Zambrano and any other Marlins pitcher may be able to put up misleadingly good numbers.
If that happens — and if Z can cut back on the crazy — he’d be a fine candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
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.