The Cardinals have a number of roster decisions to consider even before beginning to look at free agency this winter, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Jordan Walden’s option will be bought out, while Seth Maness, who is currently on the 60-day DL, is a possible non-tender candidate in Goold’s eyes (though that decision won’t come until later this winter). Plenty of deliberation will need to be dedicated to the Rule 5 Draft, Goold writes, as the Cardinals have a large number of players to consider protecting. Last year, St. Louis opted not to protect right-hander Luis Perdomo, believing him to be too inexperienced to stick in the Majors for a full season, but the Padres hung onto him and received 15 starts with a 4.13 ERA in the final few months of the year. Goold lists 15 players that are in need of protection this winter, headlined by infielders Eliezer Alvarez, Edmundo Sosa, Allen Cordoba and Juan Herrera as well as outfielder Magneuris Sierra. Goold’s piece has quite a bit of additional info on each prospect listed, so Cardinals fans (and those who track the Rule 5 Draft in general) will want to check out his column.
More from the game’s Central divisions…
- Dexter Fowler tells Bob Nightengale of USA Today that his options in free agency last winter were “few and far between” before he decided to return to the Cubs. “My agent, Casey (Close), was talking to everybody, and I felt like this was the best fit to come back here,” Fowler explained. One reason for Fowler’s struggles on the open market last year, he says, was a perception of his defense. “They said I was a bad outfielder, and I kind of took offense to that,” he explained. “So I just moved back a few steps. I didn’t really do anything too different.” Fowler says that he approached Joe Maddon and other Cubs decision-makers in Spring Training about playing deeper in the outfield and was informed that they’d been hoping to talk to him about that very same strategy. Fowler rated +1 in both UZR and DRS this season, which may not seem overly impressive, but that DRS rating is a stark improvement from his 2015 mark of -12. Fowler implied that he’ll again aim for a long-term deal this winter, though obviously he’ll have more pressing needs on his mind over the coming two to three weeks.
- Poor fastball command has become a systemic failure for the Twins, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and it was one of the chief reasons for the struggles of top prospect Jose Berrios in the Majors this season. Berardino examines the struggles that the Twins have had up and down their ranks with fastball location and spoke to pitching coach Neil Allen about the problem. While Allen isn’t even sure that he’s going to be employed by the team next season — the fate of the Twins’ coaching staff will be largely determined by new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey — but he’s taken steps to impress his new boss by compiling a comprehensive pitching plan that he hopes to have implemented throughout the entire organization. Allen said that a more stringent organizational emphasis was placed on fastball command while he was serving as the Rays’ Triple-A pitching coach before joining the Twins, and he hopes to deploy a similar philosophy in Minnesota in 2017 if retained.