November 10th –
The Cardinals are currently linked to numerous free agents this off-season and now are being linked to many more with the loss of Lance Lynn for the season due to Tommy John Surgery. The Cardinals never lacked pitching until the wheels began to squeak in the playoffs. They did however lack offense for the entire season and may lose Jason Heyward this off-season whom had been a great addition last season and one of the few bright spots with a bat last year.
So with offense lacking even worse right now and a pitcher (Lance Lynn) who as a starter averaged 193 innings a year lost to injury, in addition to losing another horse to free agency (John Lackey) what will the Cardinals do to not only maintain a team that made the playoffs, but one that can reach the World Series again and win it? Here are some potential free agency moves for the Cardinals.
Impact Losses: Heyward ($8.8 mill) Jonathan Broxton ($9 mill) Mark Reynolds ($2 mill) Lackey ($500 Thousand)
Salary estimated before losses/ currently after losses; $120 million (before)/ $95 million (currently).
Jason Heyward OF: Obviously the Cardinals want to bring him back, and I believe he would like to keep playing here. His interviews during his time in St. Louis indicate he felt appreciated and his numbers indicated that during his time here, he found his stroke at the plate and saw his batting average rise nearly every month he was in St. Louis. The Cards won’t send a $200-million dollar deal to him. But he will get paid handsomely regardless of landing spot. Hopefully the hometown discount applies.
Wei-Yin Chen LHP: Let’s face it, Chicago has a deeper pocket book and has Joe Madden, they will be a slam dunk for David Price. Chen however comes at a cheaper cost, and has been in the homerun friendly Camden Yards yet has only posted a 3.44 ERA over the past two seasons. He will be a cheap 3-4 pitcher that can fill in the gap for Lynn or Lackey and is also a lefty to help add variety to the rotation.
Ben Zobrist: The Swiss Army knife himself is ideal for St. Louis who is looking for a quality infielder to give Jhonny Peralta, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, etc. days off for matchups. Now, is someone with his skillset as a top-tier utility player worthy of a big payday? he is 35 years old, but at the right price he would be a strong addition, he has seen some diminishing in his skills, yet still is a great piece for the next season or two.
Darren O’Day RHP: At 33 years old, O’Day is an elite pitcher when it comes to getting that critical strikeout. His strikeout rate was over 11 K/9. In addition, he is durable, averaging near 68 appearances per season in each of the last four seasons.
Seung-Hwan Oh RHP: WHO? called the Mariano Rivera of Korea, Oh has closed in both the Korean and Japanese leagues and has owned a 1.81 ERA over his career. He is no stranger to pitching multiple innings to get a save. In his 647-innings pitched he has 357 saves and a 10.7 K/9. He is 33 years old but could be a nice piece to add to bolster a bullpen that has been taxed over the past few years. He may be off the radar for some teams who will chase other top tier starters out of the Asian leagues, since he is a reliever and 33-years old he will be a value pitcher in the back end of a bullpen.
Mark Buehrle LHP: This is his last season, he is from here, and every single season since forever he has been a fan favorite to trade for/sign. Now, he is cheap, he is durable, and he may be this years version of John Lackey. Old, but smart. He will be a low risk 4th-5th starter that will give you plenty of quality innings.
Steve Pearce 1B/OF: Baltimore thought they had a great piece after what seemed to be a breakout season, then he slumped and lost his lore going into the off-season. Now he is looked at as a nice backup at 1B/OF. Could allow for security with Adams and Piscotty but also as a backup outfielder.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C: I am not a huge Tony Cruz fan. He can’t hit, he isn’t that great with pitch selection. At a position where Yadier Molina is getting older and more injury prone. The Cardinals need a better fill-gap when called upon. Also, the Marlins will pay him $8 million for him to be on the Cards roster so maybe get him at a rate of around $2 million and get a solid backup for Molina.
Carlos Villanueva RHP: Cards give minimum risk contract to guy, guy saves teams pitching staff. Sound familiar? It’s happened quite a bit with the Cardinals and here was another case of that happening. Give him a contract as a long reliever and hope he continues his revitalized career. Long relievers who can spare you a few innings now and then are a dime a dozen, but he can help at the right price. He also has great clubhouse presence, and international clout with his role in the Latino baseball community.
Minor/Tryout Contract Offers:
David DeJesus OF: A veteran who is near the end of his career in many eyes is at that player coach stage of his career and could give a great presence to a young outfield that will need help adjusting to the second year in the majors, or those about to get the call up. Doubt he will accept a minor league offer, but he does have a history of making good contact and is experienced.
Tommy Hunter RHP: Under 30, hits mid 90’s fastball. Yet no love from the guy. Let’s see what he can do with Cardinals pitching coaches.
Who do you want? What contracts would you offer? Tell us!