This week on Redbird Droppings, why the Cardinals should avoid the waiver wire
As the Cardinals continue to sit near the bottom of the baseball standings, other teams are making things interesting; the Angels, Yankees, Tigers, and White Sox all threw some impending free agents on the waiver wire. None would have been getting qualifying offers and all save the team some money.
The players include Harrison Bader (OF, NYY), Jose Cisnero (RP, DET), Mike Clevinger (SP, CHW), Lucas Giolito (SP, LAA), Randal Grichuk (OF, LAA), Dominic Leone (RP, LAA), Reynaldo Lopez (RP, LAA), Matt Moore (RP, LAA), and Hunter Renfroe (OF, LAA).
This impacts the Cardinals because there are some tempting players; they’d be smart to avoid them all though for multiple reasons.
First off, none of them are not necessary; we all know what Bader and Grichuk can do already. Renfroe is interesting, even with the down year. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the Cardinals outfield is full and we need to see what we have in Richie Palacios and Alec Burleson (and to a degree, Luken Baker, who could lose time as DH).
As for the pitchers, Giolito and Clevinger are most intriguing. Clevinger is having a good season, while Giolito has struggled. The relievers don’t provide a lift over what the team already has. Like the outfield, the Cardinals need to see what they have in Matthew Liberatore, Zack Thompson, Drew Rom, and, to a lesser degree, Dakota Hudson and Jake Woodford.
This season is lost, so they need to use the next month to see what they have for next year. Signing guys with expiring contracts is counterproductive to that idea. And signing them now will not give you an inside track to Giolito or Clevinger for next season.
Secondly, every win the Cardinals gets potentially moves them out of a better draft pick. I’m not one for tanking, but the Cardinals have the rare opportunity to get one of the elite draft prospects. As the 5th worst team in the game, they have a 10% shot at the first pick; they also have the 2nd hardest schedule remaining. The Cardinals have drafted well over the years, but they normally go if the second half of the first round; the last time they had a single digit draft pick, they took J.D. Drew (5th overall, 1998).
Third, the Cardinals are only going to be adding payroll for the rest of the year by picking up one of these guys. I know there is the narrative that Bill DeWitt Jr doesn’t like to spend money; it’s really he doesn’t like to spend money badly. He’d be doing that by picking up any of these guys; they won’t help the team make the playoffs and they aren’t marquee players that will command an almost $19M qualifying offer (Giolito can’t receive one because he was traded at the deadline).
Finally, if fans want true change in the front office, the team needs to be as bad as possible. Things are already really bad this season, but add in inactivity with these waived players and the front office will look that much worse to that segment of the fanbase wanting to get those players.
The Cardinals should really take the path of those teams and waive guys like Taylor Motter, Drew VerHagen, and Casey Lawrence. It’ll save them money and give them roster spots to look at other players (here’s the link for the Rule V guys that need to be added to the roster after the season). You could call up Nick Dunn right now to fill in as the utility infielder and give him starts at second; he’s had a great season. There are quite a few pitchers that could get a shot in the bullpen to see if they are ready or if they even deserve to be protected.