Ike Davis

Mets rally late against the Braves to snap losing streak

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On ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, the Braves wasted a strong effort by starter Julio Teheran and a seventh-inning, go-ahead two-run home run by Dan Uggla to fall to the Mets 4-2. The Braves ended their eight-game winning streak and in so doing, also ended the Mets’ five-game losing streak. The two teams, still, are heading in opposite directions in the NL East standings. The Braves remain 4.5 games ahead of the Nationals, 6.5 ahead of the Phillies, and 11 ahead of the Mets.

Mets starter Shaun Marcum had struggled through his first six starts of the season after returning from a neck injury in late April. He brought a 6.59 ERA into tonight’s outing, but stymied the Braves for the most part over his seven innings of work, yielding just the two runs on four hits and no walks while striking out 12. Teheran, Marcum’s counterpart, allowed one run on five hits and three walks while striking out five in 6.2 innings.

The Mets went ahead in the bottom of the eighth against Braves reliever Cory Gearrin thanks to an RBI single to left by John Buck which tied the game, and a two-run, tie-breaking single to right field by Ike Davis. Closer Bobby Parnell made short work of the Braves in the top of the ninth to nail down the victory.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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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.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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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.