- The St. Louis Cardinals’ number one goal coming into the offseason was to find a starting center fielder and they accomplished that agreeing to a long-term contract with center fielder Dexter Fowler per Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports. The Cardinals are expected to announce the signing on Friday morning at Busch Stadium and introduce Fowler to the media. Word is that the deal Fowler signed is for five years and totals between $80MM-$90MM. The veteran outfielder was tendered a qualifying offer by his former team the World Champion Chicago Cubs. He declined the qualifying offer and now the Cardinals will sacrifice their first-round draft pick in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft to bring him aboard. Fowler enjoyed a strong year with the Cubs in 2016 as he hit .276/.393/.447. Despite being a key contributor to their run in 2016 the Cubs elected to not bring Fowler back on a long-term deal and instead inked veteran Jon Jay to a one-year pact to take over center field. Fowler brings plenty of veteran experience and is coming off one his best defensive seasons in the outfield which will surely be a huge boost to young Cardinals corner outfielders Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty.
- The Cleveland Indians lost some minor league players on Thursday morning to the Rule 5 Draft losing relievers Grant Sides, Nick Maronde, Trevor Frank, John Fitzsimmons and outfielder Anthony Santander. Santander was the only one taken in the Major League phase and the only one who can be returned to the team. He also represents the biggest potential loss as he enjoyed the best season of his minor league career with the Lynchburg Hillcats. There is hope that he will be returned as he recently underwent elbow surgery and has never played a game above the High-A level thus the Orioles may not be able to hold onto him.
- The Indians also made a selection in the Major League phase taking left-handed reliever Hoby Milner from the Phillies organization. He is a sidearm lefty who the Indians believe has matchup lefty characteristics and will be given an opportunity to win a spot in the Indians opening day bullpen.
- The Chicago Cubs continued to strengthen their bullpen as they signed former closer Koji Uehara on a one-year, $4.5MM deal per Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. The Boston Red Sox tried to bring him back and offered him a deal but Uehara didn’t get back to them in time so they went out and got Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. Just a day after acquiring closer Wade Davis from the Kansas City Royals, the Cubs have continued to add relievers to make the back of their bullpen untouchable.
- The Texas Rangers have acquired right-hander Tyrell Jenkins and lefty Brady Feigl from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Luke Jackson per Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports. Both Jenkins and Jackson have received high marks as minor league pitchers but have yet to translate that success towards the major league level so their respective clubs clearly figure a change of scenery would do them both good.
- The San Diego Padres are currently looking for shortstops to fill a hole on the left side of their infield and are showing interest in Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias and Rangers utility man Hanser Alberto. The Padres have cast a wide net in their search for a shortstop so that is clearly at the top of their wish list in the offseason.
- The Colorado Rockies remain in deep discussions with first baseman Mark Trumbo per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The Rockies surprised everyone when they signed Ian Desmond to long-term deal on Wednesday and are apparently not done shopping in the free agent market. Trumbo is primarily a first baseman but does have some experience in the outfield as well. Should they sign Trumbo, that would guarantee that they trade a position player as they would have too many position players vying for playing time. The flexibility to trade an outfielder may help the Rockies net them a frontline starting pitcher in a trade.
- The Cubs are planning on discussing an extension with right-hander Jake Arrieta in the next month per Jesse Rogers of ESPN. Arrieta drew tons of notice when he dominated the 2015 season and won the NL CY Young Award. He had just as good of a 2016 season and is most assuredly one of the core players the Cubs would like to keep on a long-term deal before he hits the open market.
- The Washington Nationals may not be done doing business with the Chicago White Sox per Nightengale. The Nationals reportedly showed interest in closer David Robertson during the Adam Eaton talks and tried to get the White Sox to package both Robertson and Eaton but the White Sox refused and stood firm in their decision to trade them separately. The Nationals are still showing interest as they continue their pursuit of a closer but the price will be costly and strip them of even more minor league talent.
- The Nationals have also jumped into the Kenley Jansen sweepstakes joining the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Jansen is the last remaining of the top three free agent closers on the market and is likely to command a sizeable deal, perhaps even more than the whopping five-year, $86MM pact Aroldis Chapman inked with the New York Yankees on Wednesday evening.