A couple weeks ago our Matthew Pouliot suggested that maybe the Mets should just release Mike Pelfrey. I’m going to take this morning’s story from Andy Martino as evidence that the Mets brass reads HBT:
In a recent meeting that included the Mets’ executives and coaches, members of the front office suggested releasing Mike Pelfrey before Opening Day, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. None of the uniformed staff was in favor of the idea, and it was downplayed.
How much of that was a financial decision — Pelfrey has a non-guaranteed contract if he were to be cut before Opening Day, which would have the Mets owe him only $1 million — and how much was an actual baseball decision is an interesting question. Because baseball-wise, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to release him.
Why? Because it’s not like having Pelfrey around, even if he’s at his worst, will prevent the Mets from going to the playoffs. And when you’re not contending it’s useful to have someone like him around. He could eat some innings. If he figures out how to pitch effectively again he could be trade bait. Trading him now — which the Mets have considered — would be the ultimate sell-low move. But releasing him would be a similar kind of thing too. “Release-low” maybe.
In any event, Pelfrey had a nice outing yesterday. And while I wouldn’t bet on him being a truly good pitcher this season, it’s not out of the question that he could be serviceable, and that’s worth taking a chance on.
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.