With no teams showing much interest in paying $10 million per year and giving up a draft pick for a closer, agent Scott Boras is hoping the Tigers have a change of heart and bid for Rafael Soriano.
MLB.com’s Jason Beck has the quotes:
“I think the Tigers’ position is one where they’re trying to put together their best team and they haven’t made those decisions yet,” Boras said.
Even before being specifically asked about the Tigers, Boras tried to shoot down the concept of a contender going with a rookie in the closer’s role, as the Tigers are thinking of doing with Bruce Rondon.
“The evidence says that there are many young players in our game that are 20, 21 that can hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs and they’re extraordinary talents. Or win 15 games. But there’s never been closers that can come in and get 30 saves,” Boras said. “I think you count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and at a young age put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective.”
Of course, Boras rarely shoots his mouth off without already having looked up the facts ahead of time. Just two pitchers under the age of 23 have ever saved 30 games in the majors: Huston Street (37 in 2006) and Neftali Feliz (40 in 2010). Seven more have saved 30 games at age 23 (not including Feliz a second time).
That said, I’d certainly put forth the argument that the reason there are so few 30-save relievers that young is because teams are so conservative about keeping veterans in the closer’s role. Whether a young player hits 30 homers is something that player controls. Saves are a manufactured stat, and there are no shortage of 22- and 23-year-old relievers that have been good enough to save 30 games.
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.