So you may have heard that the Cardinals have had a little falling out with Dexter Fowler lately. Yeah, it's been ugly. You know it by now: His GM trashed his lack of hustle on local radio while he was on paternity leave, and that ended up making national headlines. And apparently, Fowler isn't on speaking terms with his manager. Why am I explaining this to you? Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know how tabloid-ugly this whole situation has been.
It's also compounded by the fact that he's not playing. It's hard to get things right without opportunity, but because St. Louis loves their hustling scrubs, and Harrison Bader is the bae-est and web gemmiest of the hustling scrubs, he's been pressed for playing time.
The whole situation reeks. The problem is he's on the books through 2021 and is owed another $50M. Is there any way the Cardinals possibly trade their way out of this situation?
ALBATROSS FOR ALBATROSS
Talking about this with my BOTB brethren (and sistren), we discussed that the team possibly could look to a trading bad money-for-bad money situation. Think Adrian Gonzalez being traded from the Dodgers for Matt Kemp.
Kemp somehow has magically has played his way into an All-Star game with his return to LA, something that I don't think anyone could have possibly have seen coming. Could the Cardinals pull off a stunt like that? I looked at some of the "bad-money" contracts out there, and yeah...the prospects of it happening are looking rather slim.
Troy Tulowitzki is owed another $34 million but has yet to play a game this season. He could maybe play some 3B and 2B and the Cardinals could hope he finds his stroke again with him recovering from him having bone spurs removed from his heels, but at this time it's not an option and there's no timetable for his return. And even if he was healthy, he might not be an upgrade over Gyorko at this point. Man, I remember when he was everyone's favorite fantasy player.
Jacoby Ellsbury is owed another $42 million by the Yankees, but the situation is pretty much identical to Tulo's and again, even if he was healthy, the deal makes little sense.
ENTER JORDAN ZIMMMERMANN
Ugh. Yeah, that Jordan Zimmermann who got $110 million going into 2016 and has "produced" a 5.23 ERA in 321 2⁄3 innings has been worth 0 WAR while donning ye Olde English D. He still has $50 million left on his contract, basically the same amount owed to Fowler.
Before you scoff, this year has been a different story. So far at least. He has a spiffy 5.6 K/BB ratio and is getting more whiffs than ever thanks to him using his breaking stuff more often. Formerly he's been more of a ground-ball pitcher, but he's evolving by throwing his fastball just 41% of the time while throwing breaking balls over 50% of the time. But this success comes with a small sample alert. All of these pretty stats are just barely over 50 innings.
Maybe with health on his side and some Mike Maddux-magic, Zimmermann would be an upgrade over John Gant and provide some depth when Wacha comes back. Maybe. Hopefully.
For Detroit, hitting coach Lloyd McClendon could possibly fix what's ailing Fowler. He has a good reputation as a hitting coach and clearly, Fowler is lost trying to figure it out on his own. Fowler also represents an upgrade for the Tigers, as their corner outfielders have produced a whopping -0.5 WAR this season. With Leonys Martin on the shelf, they've been starting JaCoby Jones (wRC+ 77) and Mikie Mahtook (wRC +28) in center and in left field. Woof. So they could use an outfielder with an actual, recognizable name for the fans.
Because Zimmermann's been on the upswing while Fowler's value has never been lower, and the Tigers are in full rebuild mode, they might want a C-grade prospect in return for Zimmermann along with Fowler. If that gets Dex into a happier situation, I'd be OK with that.
This actually seems realistic and quite possible. And now...
CRAZY WORLD SCENARIO:
Dex for Pujols.
Yeah, yeah I know. Pujols is really bad, he's still owed $87M and has no defensive position. The Angels would have to ship over some money, and Kole Calhoun is a better player than Fowler right now, which is sad when you think about it.
You can't blame me for dreaming of seeing Albert retire in a Cardinal uniform for sentiment and nostalgia and all that feel-good stuff, but this doesn't make sense for anyone.
Maybe they could make Albert a really expensive bench player/hitting coach. Who would not love to see Albert taking over as the hitting coach?
OK, so enough of that crazy talk.
The only way I see Fowler staying in St. Louis is if the current management gets fired. If the bad money-for-bad money scenario I spelled out with Detroit doesn't happen -- and I wouldn't bet the farm on it -- then I have to think the Fowler-era coming to an abrupt and ugly end.
If Dex gets DFA'd, would that then henceforth make the team DFA'ing a bad contract with multiple years left on it become the recipients of the...
wait for it ...
Ugh. I can't help myself. Gallows humor seems appropriate in this situation. Sigh.