Yesterday the Mets demoted rookie Travis d’Arnaud back to Triple-A and, based on manager Terry Collins’ comments, it sounds like the 25-year-old catcher should get comfortable in Las Vegas.
Asked by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York how long d’Arnaud was likely to remain in the minors, Collins replied:
I don’t have a timeframe, but it’s going to take him a while to get it going to where we think it’s, “Hey, look, it’s time to bring him back here.” … It’s very hard. He is our guy coming into spring training, and he’s been our guy since he got called up last year. But he’s a young player who is still learning, still trying to get better.
You weigh the factors of: Is he getting something out of this? Or is it hurting him in the long run to continue to struggle? As I told him last night, “You’re not the reason we’re not scoring, but right now the fingers are being pointed in your direction, which I don’t think is necessarily fair. So right now you’ve got to go get your swing, come back and tear it up like everybody expected.”
d’Arnaud was ranked as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America every season since 2010, including the No. 38 overall spot this year, but now he’s 25 years old with a .189 batting average through 70 career games and seems likely to spend at least the remainder of the first half at Triple-A (where he previously hit .328 with a .990 OPS in 86 games).
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.