It’s premature to call this a Best Shape of His Life report — we need a bit more — but be it known that Prince Fielder is officially on BSOHL watch:
He has dropped weight. He has dumped the dreadlocks in favor of a high-and-tight haircut. He will move into the featured No. 3 spot in the Rangers’ order.
“He’s going to get the MVP,” Adrian Beltre said Friday night during the club’s awards gathering at the Gaylord Texan. “It’s his time to win it. My job is to protect him so that he gets there.”
That report from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning news. A photo of his high-and-tight haircut is there too. It’s shorter than it was even for his introduction as a Ranger a couple of months ago. It’s hard to tell whether he’s really dropped a lot of weight given the angle of the shot and the fact that he’s wearing a suit. Everyone looks good in a well-made suit.
The more interesting thing about the article is that it spends most of its time talking about the concept of lineup protection. The protection he was said to give Ryan Braun and then Miguel Cabrera as he hit cleanup for most of his career. And how, now, he’s going to hit third and how that is going to do him wonders.
I find this all fairly questionable and, ultimately, unverifiable. Most studies of the concept either debunk or diminish the concept of lineup protection. Braun and Cabrera are great hitters so they’d hit anyway and the evidence that they hit better because of Fielder’s presence skews heavily anecdotal/assertive. People say he provided protection, ergo he does.
And, sure, maybe Fielder will have an MVP-season in Texas this year. If he does I’m sure a lot of people will attribute it to him moving up to the three-slot. I’m also sure those who do will diminish the impact of moving to a ballpark that is far better tailored to his swing than Comerica Park was.
Oh well. Offseason talk.
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.