After the Reds signed Ryan Madson last week, Francisco Cordero was forced to turn his attention to a free agent market without many obvious places to close ballgames. The Orioles were mentioned as a possibility on Monday, but it’s hard to see why adding a late-game reliever should be a priority for them, especially when they already have last offseason’s big mistake Kevin Gregg under contract $5.8 million in 2012.
While Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has downplayed his interest in adding a reliever, passing over the opportunity to make a play for Madson, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com hears that they are indeed in the market for another late-game option and have shown interest in Cordero.
Cordero, who turns 37 in May, posted a 2.45 ERA and 37 saves over 68 relief appearances last season with the Reds. However, he also averaged just 5.4 K/9 and saw his fastball velocity dip to a career-low 93 mph.
Jordan Walden currently projects as the Angels’ closer this season after posting a 2.98 ERA, 32 saves and a 67/26 K/BB ratio over 60 1/3 innings during his rookie season. Of course, he also led the American League with 10 blown saves. While Cordero is obviously on the decline, he could present an alternative should Walden struggle during his sophomore campaign. And given how the market for Cordero has completely collapsed, the Angels likely wouldn’t have to spend much to sign him.
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.