UPDATE: Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that the deal is done and about to be announced.
1:32 PM: Heyman reports that Nate Schierholtz is in the deal too. That at least gives the Phillies and outfielder. Heyman likewise says that a pitcher could be going to Philly, making this a 3-for-1 deal. UPDATE: The pitcher is minor league reliever Seth Rosin.
12:29 PM: Ruben Amaro is taking no prisoners. Mere minutes after word of the completion of the Shane Victorino trade, Jon Heyman reports that the Giants have agreed to acquire Hunter Pence from the Phillies. There is word from the Giants, however, that the deal is not yet done. General reporterly consensus is settling on the notion that it’s probably almost done, but some details need sorted. The devil is in the details, of course.
The Giants are reported to be sending back catching prospect Tommy Joseph. No word yet if any other players are going to Philly, but Gary Brown, Brandon Belt or Kyle Crick are all reported to NOT be part of the deal. The Giants are reported to be picking up a “chunk” of Pence’s 2012 salary.
Pence is hitting .271/.336/.447 on the year with 17 homers and 59 RBI. He’s arbitration eligible next season.
Joseph, who just turned 21, is hitting .260/.313/.391 at Double-A Richmond of the Eastern League. He’s still young for his league, of course, and he has shown nice power in his previous two minor league seasons. Given that Carlos Ruiz is going to be a free agent after 2013 — and given that he will be entering his age-35 season the year after that — you have to figure the Phillies view Joseph as the heir apparent.
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.