Entering a 1-0 game with one on and two outs in the eighth, Kerry Wood walked three straight batters to tie up Thursday’s matinee between the Cubs and Nationals.
It wasn’t a case of Wood completely losing the strike zone, but he did keep just missing after getting to two strikes on both Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth. Werth’s walk with the bases loaded proved to be the equalizer, denying Ryan Dempster a chance at a victory after a strong outing.
The Cubs have themselves pretty good rotation depth and a lineup without any huge holes, but the bullpen could be a disaster. Closer Carlos Marmol was a mess last year and he gave up seven runs in 8 1/3 innings this spring. Wood is bound to get hurt at some point. Right now, their other four relievers are James Russell, Rafael Dolis, Shawn Camp (who failed to make the Mariners this spring) and Lendy Castillo (a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies who has only been pitching for two years). It’s easy to envision them losing a lot of games late this year.
Update: Marmol ended up taking the loss in this one, though incredibly enough, no walks were involved. With two outs in the ninth, Marmol gave up a shot to right that David DeJesus got all turned around on, resulting in a double for Chad Tracy. Ian Desmond went on to single him in, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead they were able to hold on to (barely) in the bottom of the ninth.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
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.
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.
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.