According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mets are “scouring” the market for bullpen help. He mentions Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez and Matt Capps among those still available, but it’s unclear whether the Mets have any interest in those specific pitchers.
Frank Francisco had surgery earlier this month to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow, but he’s expected to be ready for spring training. Still, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson could add an alternative for the ninth inning if the right opportunity arises. The Mets put most of their resources last offseason into upgrading their bullpen and they were worse in 2012 than they were in 2011, so they’ll likely look for last-minute bargains and hope for the best.
As of now, Francisco projects to open the season as the closer while Bobby Parnell will be the primary set-up man. The rest of the bullpen is a bit of a question mark, as they will likely be relying on youngsters like Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Robert Carson to take on more prominent roles. Greg Burke, who was signed to a minor league contract in November and has since been added to the 40-man roster, should also be in the mix.
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.