Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, listen to Rays GM Andrew Friedman act like he didn’t just totally rip off Dayton Moore and the Royals:
“Personally I think this is the most difficult trade we’ve made to date. Both guys were drafted and developed here, they’ve been key players in this organization’s turnaround and they’re both really high-quality people. It’s a painful loss for our club, but I’m confident in our resilience and the talent that will be returning to the field next season.”
We’ll try to carry on …somehow.
Rays pitcher David Price played it more dramatic on Twitter right after the trade was announced:
Now, I do not think that Price is playing some “let’s make it sound fair” P.R. game like Friedman is. As Shields’ and Davis’ teammate, he is likely sad to see them go, and veteran players are always genuinely partial to their veteran teammates.
That said, Price knew that Shields was on the block for a long time and likely made his peace with that a while ago. And of course, he will be signing the praises of his new teammates a week into spring training, if not sooner. Meanwhile, he is well-aware that this frees up money for the Rays to either (a) actually give him a long term deal; or (b) more likely, serve as a slightly more plausible competitor in the market to those teams who truly are willing to give him a long term deal.
More broadly, you will be hard pressed to find actual baseball people who don’t think the Rays fleeced the Royals — snap polling certainly indicates that — and Friedman and Price likely share that sentiment privately even if manners and class dictate that they don’t say so publicly.
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.