Fresh off being bumped from the starting rotation earlier this week, Jenrry Mejia could soon emerge as the Mets’ closer.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters this afternoon that Mejia will close against the Yankees tonight if a save situation arises. Collins isn’t ready to name him as the team’s permanent closer, as he wants to see him pitch on back-to-back days first, but it’s clear that’s what he would like to see.
“If we felt he was ready to go back-to-back days, possibly three days in a row, he would be the guy. But he is not at that stage yet,” Collins said.
As Rubin notes, Mejia hasn’t pitched on back-to-back days in his professional career since June 5-6, 2010. Of course, that was during his ill-fated first stint in the majors as a reliever. He got hurt soon after that and has been opposed to relief work ever since. The physical hurdle might be easier than the mental one.
Mejia, 24, posted a 5.04 ERA and 38/20 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings across seven starts prior to being moved to the bullpen earlier this week. He struck out two batters and allowed two hits over 1 1/3 scoreless innings during his first relief appearance on Monday.
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.