The Angels’ rotation hasn’t been the force we expected it would be this season, even after the Zack Greinke trade last month, but Jered Weaver has managed to be the exception. Until last night, that is.
Weaver was tagged for a career-high nine runs over just three-plus innings as part of a 12-3 loss to the Rays. He served up a solo homer to B.J. Upton in the first inning and a solo shot to Ben Zobrist in the second before allowing the first seven batters to reach base in the fourth. He was replaced by LaTroy Hawkins, who allowed two inherited runners to score on an RBI single by Upton.
Weaver had a start against the Yankees on May 30 where he left in the first inning with a back injury, but otherwise this was his shortest outing of the season. His ERA jumped from an AL-best 2.22 to 2.74 with the clunker. He was handed just his third loss of the year.
Many have assumed that the Angels would at least get one of the Wild Cards in the American League and that may still happen, but they are far from a sure thing right now. With losses in seven out of their last 10 games, they sit at 62-58 on the year, seven games behind the Rangers in the American League West and 2 1/2 games back for the Wild Card. The team’s starting rotation has a 6.00 ERA this month.
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.