The Indians released Japanese right-handed starter Daisuke Matsuzaka on Tuesday after he posted a 3.92 ERA in 103.1 innings with Triple-A Columbus. The Mets signed him yesterday and immediately inserted him into the rotation to make his debut in Queens against the heavy-hitting Tigers, his first Major League appearance since October 3, 2012.
The Tigers quickly got to Matsuzaka. After Austin Jackson struck out to lead off the first inning, Torii Hunter smashed a solo home run to left inning. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder followed up with singles, but “Dice-K” was able to work his way out of trouble. The Mets got the run back in the bottom half of the first on a Marlon Byrd RBI single.
In the second, Hunter and Cabrera teamed up to blow the game wide open. With runners on first and second and two outs, Hunter hit a ground-rule double, scoring one run. Then Cabrera crushed a three-run home run to left, his 41st of the season, to left field to put the Tigers up 5-1. It was also the 362nd home run of the third baseman’s career, putting him one ahead of Joe DiMaggio and tying him with Todd Helton for 76th all-time.
Matsuzaka calmed down, retiring ten consecutive Tigers after the Cabrera home run. He was pulled after five innings having allowed the five runs on six hits and a walk while striking out four. He threw 86 pitches. Carlos Torres came on in relief of Matsuzaka in the sixth.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.