CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman indicates that the Yankees have agreements with left-handed hitters Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez that will be finalized after the A.J. Burnett deal is approved by the league.
The Yankees looked at picking up a left-handed option at DH in a Burnett trade and reportedly had a deal done for Bobby Abreu, only to have Burnett reject the trade to Anaheim. They also showed interest in Garrett Jones in talks with Pittsburgh and in Cleveland’s Travis Hafner.
However, since those plans fell through, Ibanez appears set to get the gig. He’ll likely start at DH against most right-handers and take a seat in favor of Andruw Jones against lefties. The Yankees also figure to have Alex Rodriguez and other starters DH once in a while.
Ibanez, 39, hit .245/.289/.419 for the Phillies last season. It was his worst campaign since 2000, but he did play somewhat better after a brutal April. For what little it’s worth, he’s gone 7-for-23 with two homers and two doubles in six games at new Yankee Stadium.
Chavez will be re-signing with the Yankees after hitting .263/.320/.356 in 160 at-bats last season. His inclusion should complete the bench, which will also include Jones, Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli. Barring an injury, there won’t be any room for outfielders Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell or infielder Ramiro Pena.
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.