The headline — the one I use is the same I’ve seen in all the AP wire reports — is likely to cause some to describe A-Rod as being in the Yankees doghouse again, but Hal Steinbrenner’s actual comments seem pretty measured and sensible:
“There have no doubt been times when we’ve been disappointed in him and we’ve conveyed that to him and he understands that,” Steinbrenner said. “But look, everybody’s human and everybody makes mistakes. If you’ve got a guy over the course of 10 years, there’s going to be times any of us make mistakes … It’s a big contract,” Steinbrenner said. “We all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best to live up to it.”
Obviously this isn’t the situation Steinbrenner or A-Rod want to be in now, but it could be more acrimonious. I mean, when his dad got to this point with Dave Winfield he sicced a private eye and ex-IRS agents on him and stuff. These words likely reflect the bulk of Yankees fans’ feelings about Rodriguez too. It stinks that he gets into messes, we wish he didn’t, we wish he was still an MVP-caliber player, we know he isn’t, but let’s let the worst case scenario be him trying hard nonetheless.
And read to the end of the report. It describes A-Rod’s rehab so far. Call me crazy, but that stuff about hitting balls out to the opposite field — and, admittedly, a lot of contrarian optimism on my part — has me imagining Rodriguez coming back and having a pretty big second half, which would make a lot of people feel kinda stupid.
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.