After an eventful Winter Meetings, the Cardinals left Florida filling one major hole in their lineup but still have work to do before Opening Day. Whether it’s calling into a local radio show, responding to articles, commenting on social media, etc. fans across Cardinals Nation have been vocal about the holes they see in the lineup and are becoming anxious. Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers put it best in 2014 after his team started the season 1-2, “R-E-L-A-X.” This advice seems rather timely for Cardinals fans right about now. Relax, there are plenty of options out there to make this team better, and the front office has the tools to make it happen.
The Cardinals have the firepower prospect wise to make a deal for a SP (Chris Archer) via trade or the financial ability to pursue a free agent (Lance Lynn, Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb). Discussions with Tampa Bay have occurred and continue to do so, but something seems to be up. Is Tampa shopping the Cardinals offer to see if another team can beat it? Probably. Did the Cardinals really ever want Longoria? Debatable.
With the changes to the MLB Free Agent Compensation Rules, the penalty for signing compensation eligible players is no longer as harsh as in the past. The slow market for pitching might just have the Cardinals rethinking their approach this offseason also. The Cardinals made a low risk high reward potential move with the signing of SP Miles Mikolas but they appear to not be satisfied with just that move.
They have the prospect capital to make a deal. That being said, is Chris Archer really that much better than say Lance Lynn? I really don’t think so. Archer strikes out a ton of batters (greater than 233 K’s in each of the last 3 seasons) but his increase in HR allowed is troubling. His first full season as a SP, he gave up 12 HR. Each year after, that number has increased to 19, 30, and 27 last season. Lance Lynn on the other hand has given up 16, 14, 14, and 13 HR in his last 4 full seasons. He doesn’t put up the flashy strikeout totals, but appears to be evolving as a SP. Lynn doesn’t just rely on his fastball anymore. Signing Lance Lynn would fill a void in the Cardinals rotation, and only cost the team money. This would also allow the Cardinals to use that prospect capital to fill another hole in the lineup. Two birds, one stone. Pull the trigger Mo and Girsch.
Relief Pitching Market
The Cardinals addressed one of their holes in the bullpen with the signing of former Cardinals prospect Luke Gregerson . Gregerson will have salaries of $5 million in each of the next two seasons, and St. Louis has a $5 million option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout. The option year would become guaranteed at $6 million if Gregerson pitches in 60 games in 2019 or 130 games in 2018-19 combined. Queue the “low hanging fruit” comments from the message boards and call in shows. This criticism would be valid if this is all the front office does this offseason, but all indications appear that this will not be the only move.
The Cardinals have been tied to Tampa Bay Closer Alex Colome this offseason, but the reliever market in free agency is very deep (Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Addison Reed). At 29 years old, Reed would be the player I would target at this point. All three of the free agent options appear to be good ones, but Reed just feels like a Cardinals move. He might also come with a lower price tag, which isn’t a terrible thing.
Another Power Bat
The Cardinals Front Office should be commended for stealing Marcel Ozuna from the Marlins. Sorry, I guess they technically traded for him but one heck of a trade. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a long-term extension signed at some point this season. Ozuna’s bat fills a major void in the lineup but they shouldn’t stop there. There have been plenty of hot stove rumors involving the Cardinals (Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson) and now some free agents (Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer).
Based on the moves I mentioned above, I’d love to see the Cardinals go all-in on a player like Donaldson. I do not know what team Donaldson grew up rooting for but he went to high school in Alabama. Prime Braves country with some Cardinals fans. He went to Auburn for his collegiate career. We don’t know if he liked being there or not but presumably Missouri is a lot closer and like home than Toronto. Donaldson’s bat right behind Ozuna or Pham would be very intimidating. What would it take to get him? A lot, something that would most likely be characterized as an overpay but that’s what it takes to get elite players like Donaldson.
The infatuation by some with Mike Moustakas is puzzling. Yes, if you like the old school evaluation of a player he does hit HR but is a .314 OBP really that desirable? Does he make this team better than Jedd Gyorko getting time there? I really don’t think so. His defense isn’t something to write home about either. Donaldson gives you a player that can both hit and play defense. The key is going to be convincing Toronto that they have no chance at getting into the playoffs the next 3+ years, even if they were to sign Donaldson to an extension. Gyorko might be one of the pieces going back to Toronto, but the chance to get Donaldson should not be overlooked.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Arch City Media! I hope you all get to spend time with friends and family, and I will be back with more content after the New Year.