The Cardinals have been lacking a bona-fide marquee star player since Albert Pujols departed for the City of Angels in 2012. In the past year, the organization has shown the desire to acquire a superstar talent when the team made great efforts to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins prior to the season. This is why the Cardinals should target Bryce Harper in free agency this winter!
The Cardinals have done an excellent job of developing young talent such as Harrison Bader, Paul Dejong, Jack Flaherty, among others, which is why it is a perfect time for the organization to pursue a marquee free agent this winter to compliment and round out a young and talented lineup! The organization will have Adam Wainwright’s $19.5 million dollar salary off of their payroll, giving the organization more payroll flexibility. The Cardinals are also entering their second year of a lucrative billion dollar television contract, which will also give the organization additional financial assets to allocate to a superstar player such as Harper.
Despite having a “down” 2018 campaign, Harper still remains as one of the elite players in baseball today! The six-time all star cracked thirty-four home runs, and drove in a hundred runs batted in this season! To put this into perspective, Harper would have lead the Cardinals in runs batted in, and been only two homeruns behind Matt Carpenter, who had a career year in 2018. Harper is entering his age twenty-six season, which is traditionally the start of a player’s prime of their career. This is a scary proposition considering that Harper has already accumulated numerous accolades in his career, including six all star elections and captured the Most Valuable Player award in 2015!
The Cardinals have already expressed interest in the slugging superstar this season. Multiple sources have reported that the Cardinals attempted to trade for Harper prior to the August 31st waiver trade deadline before being blocked by the Los Angeles Dodgers. After missing out on playing postseason baseball for three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997-2000, the Cardinals will likely be interested in making a significant splash during this off-season. The Cardinals are also in dire need of an elite left handed hitter. The only two left handed hitters in the Cardinals’ starting lineup last season were Kolten Wong (whose value is primarily on defense), and Matt Carpenter, who despite having solid stats at the conclusion of the season, was wildly inconsistent throughout the season, experienceing severe slumps at the start and end of the season.
The Cardinals have a glaring need in right field. Last season, the Cardinals’ revolving door in right field included the likes of Jose Martinez, Tyler O’Neill, and Dexter Fowler, none of which seem like viable long term answers, making Harper the perfect fit for the team.
The acquisition of Bryce Harper would undoubtedly solidify the Cardinals lineup that is chalked full of outstanding “complimentary” hitters. Marcell Ozuna would have the opportunity to return to the familiar spot of hitting cleanup behind an elite hitter, a role in which he thrived in during his tenure in South Beach. Teams would also no longer have the luxury of simply pitching around Harper, something he constantly had to endure in Washington. The team would have the capability of positioning two swift and exciting players in Harrison Bader and Kolten Wong at the top of the lineup, presenting Harper and Ozuna with a plethora of RBI opportunities.
Bryce Harper is one of the most polarizing figures in today’s baseball landscape, which is a negative in the eyes of many fans. In saying this, Harper’s swagger and confident demeanor is exactly what the Cardinals need. Over the past few seasons, the Cardinals have lacked personality, charisma, and any true team identity. While this issue significantly improved after the team fired manager Mike Matheny, and promoted what seemed like the entire Memphis Redbirds roster mid- season, the Cardinals still need a charismatic high energy superstar, which is exactly what Harper is! While many feel that Harper is destined to land in a big market such as New York or Los Angeles, Harper has went on record numerous times stating his desire to increase baseball’s popularity, and to play in a market where baseball is extremely popular. This may make St. Louis (commonly referred to as “Baseball Heaven”), a more attractive destination to Harper than many believe, despite its “small market” geographical status.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been on the cusp of reaching the postseason the past few seasons. The signing of Bryce Harper would undoubtedly greatly assist the Cardinals in their pursuit of playing meaningful playoff baseball once again. Bryce Harper would once again give Cardinals Nation a superstar talent to cheer for, something the fan base has been deprived of since arguably the departure of Albert Pujols. Bryce Harper would solidify a young and talented lineup, and instantly transform the Cardinals into perennial championship contenders.