Calendar

The 2014 MLB schedule has been released

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Major League Baseball  announced its 2014 regular season schedule today. As mentioned back in June, it will begin with an Opening Series — which the MLB press release did, indeed, capitalize — between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sydney, Australia on Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23.

The non-Australian Opening Night takes place on Sunday, March 30th.  The teams have not yet been announced. I’m guessing they’ll do so after the playoffs are over. The remaining fourteen Opening Day games will take place on Monday, March 31. The final scheduled day of the 2014 regular season will be Sunday, September 28.

Other notable dates: The Draft will take place on Thursday, June 5 and the All-Star Game will take place at Target Field in Minneapolis on Tuesday, July 15. If you’re looking for your team’s individual schedule, please note that my sources tell me they will play 162 games, 81 of which will be at home. You didn’t hear that from me, though. Seriously, though: the individual teams’ websites are updating with 2014 schedules as we speak.

Now: Someone please forward this to the NFL so they can let us know if any of it interferes with their 2014 schedule. After all, it’ll be much easier for baseball to do the right thing and make way now than it will this time next year.

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.