Coming into the season three prospects stood out above all the rest: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, and Rays left-hander Matt Moore.
Every major prospect analyst had them 1-2-3 on their list, with the only differences being the order. Baseball America ranked them Harper, Moore, Trout. ESPN.com ranked them Trout, Harper, Moore. Baseball Prospectus ranked them Moore, Harper, Trout.
Harper and Trout have been making headlines all season by performing remarkably well for a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old, but Moore has mostly gone unnoticed in Tampa Bay despite the fact that he’s pitching pretty damn well for a 22-year-old.
He got off to a slow start and has a misleadingly ugly 2-5 record, but after six strong innings against the Orioles on Sunday he has a 4.45 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 63 innings overall. That isn’t going to bump Harper or Trout off the front page, but in the grand scheme of things a 22-year-old rookie striking out a batter per inning with a decent ERA bodes extremely well for his future.
Moore just happened to be a rookie during a season in which two of the best prospects in recent memory are also rookies and have thrived immediately. Don’t be surprised if he finishes the season with numbers that would make him a viable Rookie of the Year candidate in many years and don’t be surprised if he’s still an ace very soon.
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.