Inside Baseball MLB Notes | Could Cardinals shop Fowler?

Sep 9, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Dexter Fowler (25) against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Inside Baseball with Jon Heyman takes a look at (nearly) every team with news, notes, and more. To see Jon’s Hall of Fame ballot, with thoughts on more than 30 players, click here.

And now, to the notes:

Atlanta Braves

  • Breaking down the upshot of the Braves’ penalties
  • John Coppolella made a lot of good deals in his tenure. But the Matt Adams acquisition didn’t result in a net plus as previously thought, since he was non-tendered. He did, though, perform well while Freddie Freeman was out last year. As for his situation, he should be a decent second or third option for teams looking for a first baseman (but not a left fielder).

Baltimore Orioles

  • The Orioles have received a couple calls of inquiry on superstar third baseman Manny Machado, and while the Orioles are not shopping — and love — Machado, word is they would be willing to listen on any player – even their best player. 
  • The Rockies and Cardinals are interested in closer Zach Britton in addition to the Cubs and Dodgers.
  • The Orioles could have interest in Mike Fiers, who was non-tendered, in addition to several other pitchers. Their own Chris Tillman is still highly regarded by them.

Boston Red Sox

  • As was written here, the Red Sox never really were in on Giancarlo Stanton.
  • While they’d like Jose Abreu, they don’t seem to match up. Their farm system isn’t what it used to be after the trades for Chris Sale (also from the White Sox) and others, and they wouldn’t part with Andrew Benintendi in an Abreu trade, so it’d be tough.
  • Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez look like potential fits.

Chicago Cubs

  • The Cubs to this point have not signaled they will be strong in the game for Jake Arrieta. They are interested, yes. But there’s still a divide on years. There’s plenty of time, though, as the big hitters are expected to go before the big pitchers this winter.
  • The Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood to a three-year, $38 million deal on Thursday.
  • Alex Avila suggested he’d rather sign as a backup for a contender than as a starter on an also-ran, which tells you something about him.
  • The Cubs were among teams to look at Mike Minor as a potential closer before he went to the Rangers, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported.

Cleveland Indians

  • There’s interest in a return for Austin Jackson.
  • They must like Michael Martinez. Forget that he made the last out of that great 2016 World Series; he has a career WAR of -2.4.

Colorado Rockies

  • The Rockies continue to look for a closer, and their incumbent star Greg Holland figures to remain a very good fit. But they have checked out all the possible closers, including Wade Davis and Zach Britton.
  • The Rockies may be better than you think. Jon Gray and Antonio Senzatela look like potential aces going forward.

Detroit Tigers

  • Jack Morris and Alan Trammell seem to have some momentum in terms of their Hall candidacy heading into the veterans committee meeting. Several players on the ballot are worthy, as is former union chief Marvin Miller. But there’s more buzz about Morris and Trammell. This committee, since instituted, has yet to elect a player. But it should do so this time. I voted for Morris all 15 years he was on the ballot and for Trammell the last time or two.
  • The Tigers are hoping to sign a couple starting pitchers, and Katie Strang of The Athletic mentions as possibilities Chris Tillman and Clay Buchholz.

Houston Astros

  • There was a rumor the Astros were at least looking at top free agent pitcher Yu Darvish, but someone with Houston shot that down. That (the shoot-down) actually makes sense. Forget the two games they tattooed him in the World Series, it’s just hard to see them putting him on the team with Yuli Gurriel.
  • Loved SI’s choices as Sportsmen of the Year Jose Altuve and Houston Texans star/philanthropist J.J. Watt. Kudos to Chris Stone and Co. at SI.

Kansas City Royals

  • While sources earlier suggested the Royals were going to try to contend this year, new reports, including one by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, suggest otherwise. The new reports suggest the Royals may rebuild. Owner David Glass, 82, was believed of a mind to try to go for it again – especially with a new TV deal coming in 2019. It’s possible his baseball people thought otherwise, though they are believed to still be talking to top free agents Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
  • If a rebuild is in order, Glass should probably give GM Dayton Moore that two-year extension they talked about.

Los Angeles Angels

  • The Angels have been uber aggressive so far this winter after signing Justin Upton, taking Jim Johnson to get international money (and getting even more Wednesday night) and using next year’s foreign money to ink Kevin Maitin, formerly of the Braves. Maitan got $2.2 million, as Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com first reported, bringing his grand total to $6.45 million including his illegal (from the team standpoint) Braves bonus. No future young international player is likely to ever match that figure now that there are limits of between $4.75 million and $5.75 million (plus monies acquired in trade).
  • As long as they are in the spending mood, one rival GM suggested Evan Longoria could be a good spot for the Long Beach State product. We agree.
  • Though, to this point at least, the Angels are said to have had “more conversations” about second basemen and even first basemen than third basemen. That doesn’t mean they have ruled out a move for a third baseman.
  • They’ve looked at Neil Walker, but he is said to be seeking a three- or four-year deal.
  • The Angels OK’ed the use of Angels Stadium for the Philadelphia Eagles, who played in Seattle last week and are playing at the Rams this week. The hospitality for the Eagles can’t hurt their relationship with Mike Trout, who’d of course be happier still if they got to the playoffs. Team personnel say there’d be little doubt he’d be in Anaheim for the practices if he weren’t getting married Saturday.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Dodgers people will tell you they aren’t in the star starter market, and that seems to fit their M.O. They haven’t made a move for the big pitchers yet, but they obviously have the spending power if they change course. The starting pitching acquisitions in free agency have been more of the mid-range variety, such as Rich Hill, Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir. However, there’s been at least some consideration by some with the Dodgers regarding the top starters, including Jake Arrieta – though, until further notice, we will consider it a long shot.
  • The Dodgers have quietly kept their hand in the sweepstakes for Giancarlo Stanton, who is believed to have them as — by far — his No. 1 choice on his unofficial list of trade preferences. However, it seems like a long shot to happen with them – at least at this time.
  • Brandon Morrow seems to be a very popular guy on the free-agent market. He is also quite a story. The previously-injury-prone pitcher pitched in every one of the Dodgers’ postseason games but one, including all their World Series games. He also has overcome diabetes and is an easy guy to root for.
  • Julio Urias is said to be doing well, and expected back on the mound by July or so.
  • Something discovered while looking up other things; Clayton Kershaw has the same lifetime WAR as Mike Piazza: 59.4.

Miami Marlins

  • No one is saying when the Giancarlo Stanton trade might happen, except someone suggested that it’s possible it could happen at the Winter Meetings – if it did, presumably he goes to the Giants over the Cardinals.
  • There’s better news with beloved former Marlins executive/scout Marty Scott, who will not need chemotherapy or radiation after colon cancer surgery and is feeling somewhat better as he prepares for resection surgery Jan. 16 to “put his plumbing back together,”  as he put it, which will be followed by a kidney transplant a month or two later. Scott, who was let go by the new Marlins regime two days after that surgery, told us by phone that the two kids who are compatible matches for him “are fighting over” who will do the donating, and also that the baseball charity Scouts Foundation has offered to pay for his medical insurance the next six months. The best news was that the cancer discovered during a regular checkup had not spread, but he is still using a colostomy bag. Scott is a diabetic, and he said that he knew he’d eventually need the transplant, which will happen early next year. Scott’s story was first told by Jeff Passan of Yahoo, and the Scouts Foundation, started by former superagent Dennis Gilbert, immediately called him and made the offer to help. Scott said he initially resisted the help, but a Scouts Foundation person told him that “that’s what (the money’s) for.” Scott said he expected to have his VP title taken away and his salary lowered with the new regime but was surprised to be let go with two weeks to go on his contract. Marlins exec Jimmy Cuthbert kindly told him that he was sorry to have to give him that news while Scott was on the mend, and Scott recalled, “I was in the hospital at the time and couldn’t move.” The timing surprised him, though he said new Marlins owner Derek Jeter “doesn’t owe me anything.” Even so, Scott said, “It just didn’t seem right. I didn’t know if I was more mad and hurt.” Scott also said he understands that he was far from alone in this situation with a new regime wanting its own people. “A lot of people lost their jobs,” Scott said. Good news: The Scout’s Foundation agreed to pick up his Cobra after his dismissal. Best wishes to noted good guy Scott as he aims for a full recovery.
  • This one went under my radar: The Marlins have hired another one who’s an ex-Yankee, D.J. Svihlik, who left the Yankees to recruit for Vanderbilt but stayed a very short time in the college game and is an adviser for baseball operations in Miami.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Reliever Jeremy Jeffress agreed to take what’s seen as a very conservative deal – a $1.75 million guarantee for 2018 and two club options, at $3.175M and $4.3M (plus $2.2M incentives per year) – but he was in an unusual spot. Jeffress was told he’d be non-tendered if he didn’t take it, and free agency might have been a big gamble for him. He’s failed two tests for pot, so signing a minors deal somewhere would put him in jeopardy of a third failure (major leaguers are only fined for failing marijuana tests), which would mean a lifetime ban, should he fail again. The union is said not have loved this deal (they generally don’t like deals with multiple team options), but Jeffress also knew Milwaukee’s the place he’s succeeded: his ERA for Milwaukee is 2.56 vs. 4.76 for his other three teams.
  • Jared Hughes would seem to be a viable option for someone after being non-tendered following a reasonable season in the Brewers pen.

Minnesota Twins

  • The Twins did talk to Aaron Boone about a front office role with the team, as Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. They saw him long-term as a potential A.J. Hinch-type who could start in the front office.
  • The Twins are still targeting top starters, and they are serious about it. However, that market appears to be moving very slow.
  • Minnesota made two trades Wednesday night, acquiring David Banuelos from the Mariners and Jacob Pearson from the Angels in exchange for $1 million in international bonus money apiece.
  • They seek relievers, too, and are concentrating on set-up and middle-relief types. The Twins have never given a multiyear deal to a free agent reliever.

New York Mets

  • The Mets are looking at Jay Bruce, but appear to have their limits. Mike Puma of the New York Post pegged those at a three-year deal and that may bring them up short. They like that Bruce can play some first base along with the outfield.
  • They looked at Mitch Moreland in addition to Adam Lind, as well, since both of them have a bit of experience in the outfield as well as first base, where either could platoon with Wilmer Flores – though one source suggested Moreland isn’t especially likely. Some Mets people also believe they’d rather sign a short-term first baseman since they haven’t lost complete faith in Dominic Smith. They do, however, believe Smith needs to get into shape. It’s a bad sign when someone’s out of shape at age 21.
  • They were looking closely at Mike Minor, who went to the Rangers. They also like former-Met Addison Reed, Bryan Shaw, Brandon Morrow and Tommy Hunter, who had a very nice year in Tampa. A few of the top set-up relievers started by asking for four years, though in the end it’s possible only top available closers Wade Davis and Greg Holland get that.

New York Yankees

  • Teams are calling on Manny Machado now, and the Yankees are seen as one of the main teams that should have the interest and the wherewithal to ultimately keep him long-term. It isn’t known at this point which teams have called, but it would be a surprise if the Yankees weren’t at least one of the teams that will check in. The Orioles are not at all anxious to trade Machado, but they will at least listen on anything.
  • The Yankees have money for a decent signing or two, even though they are determined to stay under the $197 million luxury tax threshold to reset.
  • There could be a crimp in the Yankees’ plan to trade Jacoby Ellsbury. Word is Ellsbury, who has a full no-trade clause, does not want to leave the team even though the Yankees have said publicly they plan on him being the fourth outfielder. Ellsbury seems to be hoping to win a spot anyway.
  • Brett Gardner would be the more movable contract in any case.
  • CC Sabathia and Alex Cobb are on the Yankees’ radar, as was mentioned here last week.
  • There’s a trend to hire first-year managers and pay low rates on exactly three-year deals with a club option throughout the game. However, while new Yankees manager Aaron Boone got that same three-year deal with a club option, they had to pay a little more than the new standard rate for first-year managers.
  • Like many, the Yankees were surprised not to even get to the second round in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Even Ohtani’s agency, CAA, may have been a bit surprised. As was written here, CAA tried to get Ohtani to at least take a longer look at the Yankees.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • They are talking to teams about shortstop Freddie Galvis and second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported they have received bona fide offers for each.
  • Manny Machado remains a likely target for the Phillies, who have plenty of money to spend.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • The Pirates appear willing to listen on stars Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, but from here, McCutchen would be the more likely one to be traded since he is a free agent after the year. Cole has two years to go, so the chances for a trade there may be slim.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Some people believe Dexter Fowler could become available in trade. Fowler was their big free-agent signing last winter, but some believe they are open to at least listening. They already traded their big signing from the year before, Mike Leake, when the Mariners agreed to take on the majority of his deal. If they were to trade Fowler, they’d expect the same in such a deal – they’d pay only a small part of it. It isn’t known whether Fowler’s availability is dependent on a potential trade for Giancarlo Stanton, but it makes sense that it might.
  • One executive says he sees Juan Nicasio as a fine reliever who’s not getting the attention he deserves.
  • Fowler (@DexterFowler) is part of the Twitter-recruiting Cardinals players are doing. Hunter Pence did some recruiting for the Giants via a Twitter, to which Fowler responded “ay man @hunterpence not sure that’s good job security for you #comeflexwithdex.” Very clever, but Pence is being turned into a fourth outfielder anyway. Fowler is the one who would be more affected by a Stanton trade, as some think it could trigger a trade.
  • Stanton obviously is the big target. But the Cardinals do like Eric Hosmer if they don’t get Stanton (and they are seen as something other than the favorite for Stanton).
  • New signee Miles Mikolas grew up where the Cardinals train, in Jupiter, Fla., so that’s a bonus for him, as Mark Saxon, formerly of ESPN, pointed out. He received $15.5 million, which some rivals saw as too much – though more than half the teams showed some level of interest.   

San Diego Padres

  • The pursuit of Eric Hosmer is no joke. And one thing lending credence to it is the new three-year extension for A.J. Preller, who is a big Hosmer fan and obviously has the confidence of the owner now. The Padres have never paid more than $83 million for a player (Wil Myers) and they’d really have to step out for this one.
  • Freddy Galvis is among short-term shortstops they are considering. Alcides Escobar could be another option.

San Francisco Giants

Seattle Mariners

  • While one person says move-a-day GM Jerry Dipoto has “put all his eggs in the Shohei Ohtani basket,” another person retorted that Dipoto usually has “eggs in every basket.” In any case, Ohtani has been a crucial play for the Mariners, and many are seeing them as a favorite now. I made them my second choice behind only the Padres.
  • Yu Darvish was actually linked to the Mariners, as well. But if there’s any truth to the rumor that Ohtani prefers to be on a team without other Japanese stars, there’s no chance the M’s would sign Darvish. (Of course that rumor sounds a bit fishy).
  • The beloved Chooch, 38, is hoping to play next year, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.

Texas Rangers

  • The Rangers have maintained they are on a tight budget, but they appear to at least be keeping tabs on the top pitchers, including their former star Yu Darvish. It’s possible they are just interested in his well-being, or perhaps whether he might sign with a competitor.
  • Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb might be more realistic, though.
  • Mike Minor will help whether he starts or relieves. Texas has said they plan to use him as a starter, though it’s possible that could change if they acquire a starter. But some on other teams don’t get the idea of starting him, as seems possible according to reports, including one by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. “Leave him alone!” one rival scout screams (at least I imagine him screaming) via text of the alleged plan to move Minor to the rotation.
  • Not sure why new Rangers bench coach Don Wakamatsu doesn’t get more managerial looks.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • If Dexter Fowler becomes available, he’d make sense for Toronto, which offered him a four-year deal for more than $60 million last year, and that happens to be what he has left now.
  • The buy-low trade for Aledmys Diaz makes a lot of sense from here. He has a lifetime 111 OPS+ to 64 for Ryan Goins, as Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out.
  • As for the rumor that the Jays are considering selling, one person close to that scene called that “fake news.” But stay tuned, just in case.

Washington Nationals

  • Free agent Stephen Drew had ankle surgery in September and it is said that he will be good to go for 2018.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jon

    Dec 7, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I don’t see why Fowler would be traded if the Cards got Stanton. I believe Grichuk, Piscotty and even Pham would be traded before Fowler would. An outfield of Stanton, Pham and Fowler sounds pretty good.

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