The Source of the Cardinals Value

Every season, I break down where the Cardinals got their players and how much value they got by each transaction type. The Cardinals used 48 players this season and their Baseball Reference WAR was 36.2 between hitting/fielding and pitching.

The Cardinals acquired players by 6 different means: the draft, amateur free agency (aka International Free Agency), the Rule V draft, trades, free agency, and purchasing (aka trading for cash; normally I’d include this as a trade, but BR had it listed separately). The largest source of players was the draft; they had 24 players on their roster that they had drafted. The least amount of players were added by purchase (Jose Martinez from the Royals) and the Rule V draft (Matt Bowman as a Major Leaguer and John Brebbia as a Minor Leaguer). Here’s the breakdown:

I did change one from BR; Carlos Martinez was listed as a free agent while I had him as an amateur free agent. The discrepancy is due to the fact Martinez was banned from signing for a year after he originally agreed to a deal with the Red Sox; Martinez signed under a false identity. The Cardinals were able to benefit by this and signed him after the ban. I still consider him an amateur free agent.

Since so many players on the roster were drafted by the Cardinals, they also had the highest WAR as a whole at 23.8. The lowest were from Rule V players (1.3) and purchased players (1.4); again, you are talking about the 2 lowest acquisition types. Here is the total WAR per acquisition type:

Showing total WAR by acquisition type doesn’t show where the Cardinals excelled at bringing in players. If you look at WAR/Acquisition Type, you get a better picture:

Acquisition Quantity WAR WAR/Quantity
Purchased 1 1.4 1.4
Draft 24 23.8 1.0
Trade 7 5.8 0.8
Rule V 2 1.3 0.7
Amateur Free Agent 5 2.4 0.5
Free Agency 9 1.5 0.2

The Cardinals did the best when purchasing players, but it was a small sample size. It’s pretty telling though that free agency was the worst value.

When you look by different acquisition type, there are some interesting notes.

We’ll start with free agency, where only 3 of 9 players had a positive WAR: Dexter Fowler, Mike Leake, and Brett Cecil. Those might be surprising names as all were heavily criticized during the season. While Fowler was unjustly bashed, Leake and Cecil both had some major struggles. Cecil had a rough start to the season, but his positive WAR probably came from some of the low leverage situations he pitched in when he looked better. Leake started the season hot and that’s what helped his numbers.

For drafted players, Tommy Pham led the way; his 6.4 WAR was better than the next 2 players, Matt Carpenter and Lance Lynn combined (both were at 2.9 each). Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina were also above 2.0 (2.7 and 2.0 respectively; Kolten Wong was close at 1.9). The back end was mostly younger players that didn’t see much time: Carson Kelly, Jack Flaherty, Alex Mejia, Mike Mayers, and Marco Gonzales. The exceptions were Matt Adams (-0.3) and Kevin Siegrist (-0.1), who both ended the season with other teams.

The already mentioned Carlos Martinez lead the amateur free agents with 3.2. Only Magneuris Sierra came in after that with a positive WAR at 0.3. Sandy Alcantara and Breyvic Valera combined for a -0.4. Aledmys Diaz was at the bottom at -0.7, which was to be expected with his subpar play prior to his demotion.

Jonathan Broxton was the only traded player to have a negative WAR (-0.3). The best traded player was Jedd Gyorko (3.6), followed by Randal Grichuk (1.0) and Adam Wainwright (0.8, a majority of it came from his bat).

Brebbia and Bowman were both positive for Rule V players; Bowman was at 0.2, which seems low but he was abused throughout the season by Mike Matheny.

Jose Martinez was the lone purchase player and proved to be a true value; the Royals gave him up for practically nothing a season after the won the PCL Batting Title. I did expect to see Martinez higher though.

Next up will be the Cardinal team totals compared to the previous 19 seasons.

3 thoughts on “The Source of the Cardinals Value

  • October 8, 2017 at 11:27 am

    What do you think about the idea of the Cardinals signing Yoshihisa Hirano? I think he could be another under-the-radar signing that could be very beneficial to the Cardinals.

    • October 8, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      It would be a good start, but I wouldn’t be happy if the team signed him and believed he would fix the bullpen alone.

      • October 8, 2017 at 7:10 pm

        And perhaps adding a underrated starting pitcher or two such as Brooks Raley or Merrill Kelly would also be very helpful to getting a playoff spot next year.


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