Baseball

Redbird Droppings: Winter Meetings Day 2

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Today’s Redbird Droppings looks at potential matchups with Seattle and Cleveland, Hick’s market starting to heat up, and a potential match for the extra outfielders.

Redbird Droppings

The Mariners and Guardians need outfielders, but do they have the pitching the Cardinals need? Jordan Hicks is seeing his market start to pick up. And what other teams need outfielders?

Scratch Seattle As Trade Partner

Many believed the Mariners were a logical trade partner; they need outfield help and had a logjam in the rotation. Think again. With Marco Gonzales traded to Atlanta, GM Jerry Dipoto is on record that trading a pitcher is less likely now; that means George Kirby and Logan Gilbert are probably not moving. Granted, GMs won’t always show their hand to the media and a pitching trade could still happen. Even with Gonzales traded, they still have 7 potential rotation options on their roster

Cleveland Still An Option

While Seattle could be crossed off, the Guardians are looking more appealing to deal with. It’s reported that they are standing pat at about $94M payroll, matching what they spent last year. As of right now, they won’t be able to do much.

Shane Bieber made $10.1M in 2023 and is projected to make $12.2M in 2024 according to MLB Trade Rumors. While Bieber has seen his K% drop and H% rise since his Cy Young 2020 season, he’s still a very good pitcher and a value at $12M. He’s also open to an extension with a new team, as we saw yesterday.

Emmanuel Clase is only making $2.5M in 2024, but is under contract until 2026 with 2 additional club options. He’s going to be a little trickier to acquire; the Guardians would need a strong package to even consider moving him.

If the Cardinals were to do a package, they’d need to include a lot of team controlled assets. They might be able to get Tyler O’Neill off the roster and his projected $5.5M salary, but the Guardians would probably rather have Dylan Carlson and his $1.8M projected salary and 2 extra years of team control. I could also see the inclusion of Luken Baker a must. Then you’d lose some young pitching; I bet they’d want an MLB ready guy like Matthew Liberatore, Zack Thompson, or Drew Rom, along with 2 of Gordon Graceffo, Tink Hence, Michael McGreevy, and Max Rajcic.

If you could pull off O’Neill, Baker, Liberatore, Graceffo and Rajcic for both Bieber and Clase, you’d have to pull the trigger.

Hick’s Market Increasing

As mentioned yesterday, the Cardinals are interested in bringing back Jordan Hicks and the Baltimore Orioles are also interested. Well, add the Astros and Rangers to the mix, along with the Angels and Red Sox. The Rangers aren’t spending as much this off-season, so Hicks could be a backup option for the more expensive Josh Hader. The Astros also won’t be big spenders and have a couple of holes to fill in; Hicks might be a little much if they don’t have internal options to save some money.

Looking At The Outfield Market

There are quite a few teams the Cardinals could match up with on outfielders.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays have long been tied to Carlson and/or O’Neill, dating back to the trade deadline. I think Brendan Donovan, who could also see time at second base for them. The popular idea amongst fans was O’Neill for Alek Manoah. At the start of the off-season, that made sense when the Cardinals needed a little more depth; after adding Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, it probably takes Manoah off the board for the Cardinals. I also don’t think the Jays would trade Kevin Gausman or Jose Berrios since they anchor the top of their rotation.

Diamondbacks: The D’backs could want a Cardinal outfield, but it would have to be one of the right handed guys. That rules Alec Burleson out. O’Neill is a righty and Carlson is a switch hitter who is better as a righty. While not an outfielder, Baker could also be of interest. The issue is they don’t have much as far as pitching that could interest the Cardinals. If Baker is the guy, prospects could be an option, as the Cardinals really don’t have a place for Baker right now.

Mariners: While I listed above that they don’t match up, it should be worth noting that the Mariners need more than just outfielders. Someone like Tommy Edman or Donovan would probably be at the top of their wish list, since they can fill in just about anywhere. I don’t know how interested they’d be in O’Neill since they were the ones who dealt him to the Cardinals. Carlson might be an option if they believe he’s better than he showed last season. I don’t see them being in on unproven players since that’s what they currently have.

Mets: The Mets are looking for an everyday outfielder, specifically left field with Jeff McNeil moving back to the infield. They would probably be willing to take on O’Neill or Carlson, since they have the most experience; I would think Carlson over O’Neill due to service time. Unfortunately the Mets don’t line up with pitching, unless they would move Kodai Senga because they get a better pitcher, which I highly doubt.

Nationals: The Nationals are looking for left handed power in the outfield, which could be someone like Burleson, Carlson, or Donovan. Much like the D’backs, the Nationals don’t have a lot that could interest the Cardinals. For a controllable outfielder, I’d love to get MacKenzie Gore, but I don’t see the Nats dealing him and he wouldn’t help the Cardinals right away.

Rockies: The Rockies put Brenton Doyle in centerfield for most of last season, which was good for the defense but very bad for the offense. Carlson could be a fit for them, but they lack the upper end pitching the Cardinals are looking for, nor the elite relievers. Daniel Bard might have been nice, but his 2023 was subpar for a closer.

Tigers: The Tigers could use a veteran presences in the outfield that won’t block some of their better prospects, so they could be in on O’Neill. The issue is they are light on MLB ready pitching and are looking for starters and relievers at this point. Like the Nationals, they have a young pitcher in Casey Mize that would be nice, but the Tigers probably wouldn’t move him and he wouldn’t be better (at this point) then what we already have.

Yankees: Here’s the interesting one. The Yankees like Donovan, Carlson, and Burleson, but it all really depends on how ready they think Jasson Dominguez is. If he’s ready now, they’d be more interested in someone like Burleson, who would be more of a 4th outfielder, or Donovan, who they can move around. If they think he only needs a year, they might be more likely to go after O’Neill due to his impending free agency. If they want insurance, especially with annual health questions around both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, Carlson would probably be their play.

And they have pitching; maybe not a right now, elite ace, but guys that are upgrades over the back of our rotation. You could probably also get some prospects depending on the deal.

To some degree, you could include the Dodgers (Betts will man second base), the Angels (Trout probably can’t handle CF any more), the Giants (always looking for OF help), and the A’s (but they don’t have anything worthy of trading right now), but I see those as last ditch teams who will focus elsewhere.

Don’t forget, the lottery draft is today at 4:30 CST.

Don’t forget to check out the Cardinals Salary Tracker, updated now with Sonny Gray and Kyle Gibson.

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