UPDATE: According to Jack Curry of YES Network, today’s bullpen session went off without a hitch. Sabathia is scheduled to throw another one Tuesday, but he was “emphatic” in saying he’ll return next Friday.
11:45 AM: CC Sabathia landed on the disabled list last week due to left elbow soreness, but he’s aiming to return as soon as he’s eligible next Friday against the Indians. He still has some hurdles to cross before being cleared to return, but the early signs are encouraging.
Sabathia threw off flat ground without incident for the second straight day yesterday. The big southpaw told WFAN’s Sweeney Murti that he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session today for the first time since being placed on the disabled list. According to Steven Miller and Ethan Asofsky of MLB.com, Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn’t ready to commit to a specific date, but he expects him to return at some point next weekend.
“I haven’t really nailed down that that’s the date,” Girardi said. “We have to see how the bullpens go and how he feels. That way I have a little leeway for the second day or the third day [of the series against the Indians], whenever it is. Let’s just see how his bullpens go before I give an exact date.”
Sabathia, 32, is 12-3 with a 3.56 ERA and 140/35 K/BB ratio over 141 2/3 innings in 20 starts this season. He had a previous stint on the disabled list in late June due to a left groin strain.
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.