Russell Martin

Russell Martin is in The Best Shape of His Life. Again!

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Last Sam Miller of the OC Register/Baseball Prospectus noticed something neat:  Russell Martin declares himself to be in The Best Shape of His Life just about every single year.  Really: Here he is in 2008, here he is in 2009, here he is in 2010 and here he is last year.

So, shocker, but Martin is out there crowing about how he’s in good shape once again.  From Yahoo!

Russell Martin is healthy going into spring training, a change from his first season as a Yankee, when he was finishing up rehab on an injured hip and knee. Before 2011 spring training, Martin had little chance to build power in his legs, so a full winter of workouts “will be a huge difference,” Martin told the New York Daily News. Martin believes, in fact, that he might be the fittest Yankee in camp this year. “If there’s any guys in more shape than me, I”d be surprised,” Martin said. “If there are, I’d be happy, because I’m coming ready this year.” Martin also said he’s already begun taking swings, something he didn’t do until a few days before spring training began last year.

So, last year’s claim that he was “in the best shape of his career” was a bald-faced lie?  Say it ain’t so, Russ!

And if it is so then — brace yourselves people — it’s possible that all of these players claiming to be in such great shape are full of baloney and are making such claims either because (a) they are taking kindly to reporters by throwing them a meaningless bone when they have nothing else to report; or (b) they are trying to mask eroding baseball skills with a sheen of positive P.R.

I know. Crazy.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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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.

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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.

Braves acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Relief pitcher Luke Jackson #53 of the Texas Rangers  throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park on September 16, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Texas won 14-3. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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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.