The Dodgers indicated at season’s end that they’d likely go into 2013 with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop and Luis Cruz at third. They’d also have the option of going back to former top prospect Dee Gordon at short and shifting Ramirez to third.
As it turns out, though, baseball’s new richest team may go in an entirely different direction at third base. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that they’re considering making a bid for free agent Kevin Youkilis.
The Dodgers would be making another addition even though they currently have eight players on their 40-man roster able to play short and/or third base:
Ramirez: $15.5 million
Juan Uribe: $7 million
Jerry Hairston Jr.: $3.75 million
Nick Punto: $1.5 million
And then Cruz, Gordon, Justin Sellers and Elian Herrera all making close to the minimum.
Obviously, not all of those guys will be around next year. Gordon, Sellers and Herrera figure to head to Triple-A if they’re still in the organization. Uribe will likely be released or traded for another bad contract. Hairston can play the outfield, too, so he’ll stick around. If Cruz starts, then Punto can stick as a reserve. If Cruz is pushed into a utility role, then Punto might be released or traded.
Youkilis is also being looked at by the White Sox and Phillies, sources tell Rosenthal. Still, one imagines that if the Dodgers decide they want him, they won’t be outbid.
My thought is that they’re better off making defense the priority and putting Hanley at third. Cruz is a better shortstop than Ramirez anyway, and he and Gordon can battle it out for a starting job.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
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.