The White Sox and Cubs continue to monitor the market for free agent center fielder Dexter Fowler, writes Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com/CBS Chicago. Both clubs are checking in on Fowler’s market on a daily basis, Levine adds. Levine spoke to one executive from another team that called the Cubs the likeliest landing spot for Fowler, though based on the anonymous quote, that appears to be purely speculative as opposed to any form of definitive knowledge. The report notes that Fowler could settle for a one- or two-year deal (possibly with a player option, in keeping with the offseason’s opt-out trend), although that, too, appears to be fairly speculative in nature. While Levine and the unnamed exec feel that Fowler should have accepted the qualifying offer, it’s easy to make such claims with the benefit of hindsight, and I’d contest that no such claims can be made until the parameters of Fowler’s eventual deal are known. Even if Fowler comes in at a number lesser than the value of the qualifying offer, the upside in testing the market (tens of millions of dollars) significantly outweighed a possible difference of a few million dollars, in my eyes.
More from the game’s Central divisions…
- Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco tells MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that his surgically repaired hip is 100 percent, and he’ll be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. Mesoraco suffered a hip impingement in the first month of a four-year contract extension and was limited to 23 contests last year before undergoing surgery in June. However, the 2014 All-Star says he’s been hitting for “a couple of months” and has also progressed to catching drills, including blocking/receiving pitches, throwing across the diamond. Mesoraco says in terms of work behind the plate he is doing “just about everything with no pain.”
- Right-hander Josh Tomlin, who signed a two-year deal with the Indians yesterday (including a club option for a third season), spoke to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian about the decision to sign the contract. “I didn’t really look towards the free-agent part,” said Tomlin, who would’ve hit the open market next winter had he not signed the deal. “I’ve been a Cleveland Indian since 2006. When they approached my agent about that contract, it was something that excited me and it got me looking forward to the season and I appreciated it. It’s something we talked about and we were able to reach an agreement that I was happy with, that they were happy with. I wasn’t really looking toward the future and seeing, ’OK, these guys are getting this much money. I could potentially have that kind of money.’ That never entered into my head. It was, ’Cleveland Indians wanted to give me a shot and I’m all about it.'” GM Mike Chernoff tells Bastian that the plan for 2016 is for Tomlin to pitch in the rotation. Assuming that Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer all remain healthy, that would seem to leave right-hander Cody Anderson, who was solid in his big league debut this past season, without a spot in the starting five. Then again, virtually no team makes it through a season with only five starters, so Anderson and others should have chances to start throughout the year.
- There were no real discussions of a long-term pact between the Twins and Trevor Plouffe’s representatives at CAA before the two sides agreed to a $7.25MM salary for the 2016 season, per 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson (Twitter link). As it stands, Plouffe will be eligible for free agency following the 2017 campaign. He was an oft-speculated trade candidate earlier this winter due to the emergence of Miguel Sano and the signing of Korean slugger Byung-ho Park, who will push Sano away from the DH spot. Minnesota plans to use Sano in right field for the time being, though Plouffe’s future with the club and Sano’s positioning on the diamond figure to remain connected, as Sano has spent the bulk of his minor league career at third base.
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke to Twins GM Terry Ryan about the steps that the club is taking to make Park’s transition from Korea to the United States as smooth as possible. Minnesota has hired a translator of Park’s choosing and has also been in contact with several Pirates officials about the transition process for Jung Ho Kang in 2015 in an effort to make the process as seamless as possible for their new DH. Ryan notes that the fact that both Kang and Park are represented by Octagon’s Alan Nero also helps, as Nero adds another person familiar with the adjustment process to the fold.
- The Cardinals aren’t exactly certain of when Yadier Molina will be healthy enough to make his 2016 debut, writes Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which creates opportunities for internal options like Michael Ohlman and Carson Kelly to make the roster as a backup to offseason signee Brayan Pena. Non-roster invites such as veteran Eric Fryer also could find themselves with a greater opportunity to see some Major League time due to the uncertainty. However, even though Ohlman has only been with the Cardinals organization for a little less than a year, he outlined Molina’s importance to the roster when speaking to Frederickson. “He controls the clubhouse,” said Ohlman. “It’s his team.” Molina underwent thumb surgery back in October and had to undergo a second operation in December after the first one did not fully correct the ligament issue.