We have a little over a month until Spring Training starts up, and there are still quite a few moves the Cardinals need to make.
The front office was up front about a catcher being the main priority; they accomplished their goal back over a month ago by signing Willson Contreras. It’s a good deal, but there is still more to do.
The middle infield could use an upgrade; Tommy Edman is a great player, but can the team rely on Brendan Donovan (1 season sample) or Nolan Gorman (less than a season, and was underwhelming at times)? Is the team better off with Gorman as a DH and Donovan in a utility role? There really aren’t a lot of solid options out there still. Didi Gregorius might be the best available, but he’s coming off his worst season in the majors. Josh Harrison can play multiple positions, but he’s not an upgrade. Mike Moustakas is coming off a bad year, but won’t cost much; again, he’s not much of an upgrade. Rougned Odor is not very good anymore. Donovan Solano can play multiple positions, but hasn’t been a full time player.
The outfield needs a boost as well; Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, and Lars Nootbaar are penciled in as the starters, with Alec Burleson as the 4th. I like Andrew McCutchen as an option; while he was an average hitter in 2022 (99 OPS+), I think he’s bound to bounce back. The downside is he can’t play center at this point of his career. David Peralta, who was in the Cardinals farm system at one point as a pitcher, is another good option; he’s a better bat then McCutchen, but is limited to the corners. Adam Duvall is still out there; his bat was below average last season, but the previous 3 were good and he’s able to play centerfield. Other less options include Ben Gamel, Jackie Bradley Jr. Raimel Tapia, and Tyler Naquin. I won’t include Tommy Pham because I don’t see the team going that route again.
He’s a really interesting idea: Jurickson Profar. He’s coming off a 3.1 WAR season with a 111 OPS+. Last season, he was limited to left field and DH; he’s previously played all 4 infield positions and all 3 outfield positions. Signing him would also give some roster flexibility since he can play almost everywhere in a pinch.
The pitching still has some question marks as well.
The rotation could use a #1 starter, but there really aren’t any of those left on the market. Pretty much anything they go for would be mid-rotation (Zack Greinke, Michael Wacha) or a reclamation project (Cole Hamels, Danny Duffy). The Cardinals have a full rotation at this point, so they’d need to clear some spots out.
Trevor Bauer…yes, he’s available, but I believe he’s been unofficially blackballed by the league; even if he’s not, the Cardinals are a pretty “safe” organization and wouldn’t want a player with that type of baggage. It’s also hard to say if he’d be considered a #1 at this point, without pitching since mid-2021. He’s very unconventional, which means his methods would probably conflict with where the Cardinals are with technology and modern training philosophies; that’s a shame too because the organization could learn a lot from him and his methods (read The MVP Machine by Ben Lindbergh for more info on this).
The bullpen needs some help. Outside of the core (Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera, Andre Pallante), there are a lot of question marks. Will Jordan Hicks rebound? What will Zack Thompson and Jake Woodford‘s roles be? Can Chris Stratton, Drew VerHagen, Wilking Rodriguez, and Guillermo Zuniga hold down bullpen roles?
The team could investigate an Alex Reyes reunion for a low base salary or a minor league deal. Andrew Chafin should be a no brainer for a lefty in the ‘pen; Brad Hand could be a good fall back option. I like Chad Green and Jimmy Nelson a lot from the right side; both could probably signed for fairly cheap after injury plagued seasons. Corey Knebel, Ken Giles, and Zack Britton are all former closers that could be upgrades as well.
There are also trade options out there; it’s been rumored that the Cardinals are working on a deal for an unknown player (h/t Jim Bowden…paywall). Other have noted that the Cardinals are monitoring both the free agent and trade markets.
There have been a bunch of former Cardinals signed in the last few weeks. Here is the list of former Cardinals who have signed this off-season.
- Matt Carpenter, DH, signed a 1 year, $3.5M contract with the Padres; the deal includes a player option for 2024
- Aledmys Diaz, SS, signed a 2 year, $14.5M contract with the Athletics
- Corey Dickerson, OF, signed a 1 year, $2.25M contract with the Nationals
- Rich Hill, LHP, signed a 1 year, $8.0M contract with the Pirates
- Shelby Miller, RHP, signed a 1 year, $1.5M contract with the Dodgers
- Adam Ottavino, RHP, re-signed a 2 year, $14.5M contract with the Mets
- Jose Quintana, LHP, signed a 2 year, $26.0M contract with the Mets
- Minor League Deals: Matt Adams (1B, Nationals); Austin Allen (C, Marlins); Aaron Brooks (RHP, Padres); Clint Coulter (OF, Giants); Ben DeLuzio (OF, Cubs); Jose Godoy (C, Angels); Tyler Heineman (C, Pirates); Jason Heyward (OF, Dodgers); Kevin Herget (RHP, Reds); Joe Hudson (C, Braves); Mike Mayers (RHP, Royals); Zach McAllister (RHP, Diamondbacks); T.J. McFarland (RHP, Mets); Ljay Newsome (LHP, Giants); Brian O’Keefe (C, Mariners); Rafael Ortega (OF, Yankees); Delvin Perez (SS, Yankees); Julio Rodriguez (C, Tigers); Austin Romine (C, Reds); Max Schrock (IF, Padres); Chasen Shreve (LHP, Tigers); Garrett Williams (LHP, Athletics); Nick Wittgren (RHP, Royals); T.J. Zeuch (RHP, Rockies)
- International: Leandro Cedeno (OF, Orix Buffaloes of NPB); Austin Dean (OF, LG Wiz of KBO)
- Retired: Steve Cishek (RHP)
The following former Cardinals are still on the market: Roberto Baldoquin (IF); Jacob Bosiokovic (RHP); Matt Bowman (RHP); Sam Gaviglio (RHP); Dariel Gomez (1B); Connor Jones (RHP); Rob Kaminsky (LHP); Dominic Leone (RHP); Americo Lugo (RHP); Deck McGuire (RHP); Yairo Munoz (IF); John Nogowski (1B); David Peralta (OF); Luis Perdomo (RHP); Tommy Pham (OF); Tyler Pike (LHP); Stephen Piscotty (OF); Nick Plummer (OF); Daniel Ponce de Leon (RHP); Johan Quezada (RHP); Brayan Ramirez (RHP); Alex Reyes (RHP); Francis Reynoso (OF); Domingo Robles (LHP); Enrique Saldana (RHP); Ramon Santos (RHP); Ryan Sherriff (LHP); Magneuris Sierra (OF); Donovan Solano (UT); Cory Spangenberg (IF); Luke Voit (1B); Michael Wacha (RHP); Austin Warner (LHP); Luke Weaver (RHP); Brady Whalen (1B); Justin Williams (OF); Ronnie Williams (RHP); Andrew Young (IF)
Around the Web
- Per Jeff Jones, Contreras will not play in the WBC as he wants his first spring with the Cardinals to be full time. Those playing include Nolan Arenado (USA), Tommy Edman (Korea), Paul Goldschmidt (USA), Miles Mikolas (USA), Lars Nootbaar (Japan), and Adam Wainwright (USA).
- Do Arenado and Goldschmidt have a chance at the Hall of Fame? Viva El Birdos compares them to Scott Rolen and Todd Helton.
- Call to the Pen revisits the Cardinal Career of Macho Man Randy Savage.
- MLB’s The Film Room lists Helsley as the #10 reliever in baseball.
- McCutchen is profiled by Redbird Rants, which they also think could be a fit for the team.