The St. Louis Cardinals have made major headlines this off-season by adding two veteran pitchers to boost their already strong pitching: former Giants and Reds pitcher Mike Leake, and international star pitcher Seung-hwan Oh.
But now, the big question has arrived once again.
Will the Cardinals, who lost right-fielder Jason Heyward to the Cubs in free agency, add another bat? And if they do add another bat, who will it be? So far, the Cardinals have actually added two hitters over the course of the off-season: 27-year old Jedd Gyorko, the former San Diego Padres second baseman, and backup catcher Brayan Pena.
However, those type of moves add depth, not long-term starters, to the Cardinals.
Maybe, just maybe… that was their plan all along.
Yoenis Cespedes is still one of the top free agents on the market, and several teams are in the running, or at the very least, predicted to be in the running, for him. And the Cardinals are considered to be one of them. As of now, Stephen Piscotty is in right field, taking the place of Heyward, while Randal Grichuk is in center field. Matt Holliday, who is still producing but is in the down-turn of his career, remains in his place at left-field.
Adding Cespedes would not only add another powerful and consistent bat to a lineup that finished 11th in scoring in 2015, but he also could provide excellent defense as well, though that’s not to take away from Piscotty and Grichuk’s abilities.
Another outfielder that still could provide a major boost to the Cardinals is 28-year old Justin Upton. Last season, Upton hit 26 home runs for the San Diego Padres. Upton is interestingly enough one of 10 players with at least 15 homers in the last eight seasons, and has played in 149 games or more in each of the last five seasons, showing his consistency and durability.
He has also finished in the top three in Gold Glove consideration during the last two seasons.
But the outfield isn’t the only spot that could be filled for the Cardinals. Players such as shortstop Ian Desmond, and Howie Kendrick both are eligible free agents that can perform well both at the plate and in the infield.
As stated before, however, the plan that the Cardinals have in mind might involve not signing anyone else to their roster, and instead focusing on the formula that has made them so consistently successful over the past decade: by developing players through the deep farm system they have set in place.
And if the past is any indication, either method definitely has its benefits in place.
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