Moments after Mariano Rivera closed out a 6-2 win over Baltimore last night Yankees catcher Russell Martin was shouting at Orioles second baseman Robert Andino, with both players needing to be held back as their teams left the field.
Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that Martin and the Yankees believed Andino was signaling Rivera’s pitch locations to hitters while standing on second base, although everyone involved downplayed the incident afterward.
Joe Girardi dismissed it as merely “boys being boys” and Martin said: “I don’t remember what happened at the end there. A little yapping session towards the end. Nothing crazy.”
Andino declined to comment, but he might have something to say if the Yankees decide to retaliate with a plunking in today’s game. Asked if that was in the plans, Martin replied: “Maybe it’ll make it more exciting, I don’t know. I can’t predict the future. It’s fun. It’s baseball, there’s emotions flying and stuff. What else can I say?”
Hoch notes that this isn’t the first time Martin has been angry about alleged pitch tipping by an opponent, as he accused the Blue Jays of doing the same against Bartolo Colon last July. And of course it’s worth noting that base runners relay signs and pitch locations to hitters all the time, usually without incident. It would be interesting to know what Martin thinks of the whole practice when his teammates are the ones doing it.
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.