As the Winter Meetings heat up for the Cardinals. People of the mob that is Cardinal Nation are demanding the trading and signing of everyone and everything without giving up any decent talent at all, or paying more than the price of a happy meal for a 40-homerun-100-RBI player.
So while fans are in an identity crisis over how we could allow the Cubs to be better than us for once in hundred years I propose this not-so-insane rational for the Cardinals. Make no moves at all and wait until 2018 to make moves.
But…but…but we need to grab more headlines and outspend the Cubs? well ask the White Sox how that goes. Just a short while back the White Sox “Won the offseason.” They got Todd Frasier and Adam Eaton to go along with Jose Abreu to go along with a cast of no namers. They had Chris Sale anchoring this staff that was going to be so good, remember it included names like Jeff Samardzija. They added this stud reliever that would save their bad bullpen named David Robertson…. remember that stretch of talent acquisition? Spoiler… it failed…where are the Sox now?
Within less than 48 hours from trading both Sale and Eaton the White Sox acquired seven-prospects, many of which are top 100 in the rankings. So all the hype over the big headlines got them nowhere near the World Series and netted them some prospects… neat. Need another example of “Winning the offseason.” San Diego… I rest my case there… moving on.
So the Cardinals, let’s look at them as to why they should make no moves.
Prospects: The Cardinals once had the best ranked farm system in MLB, now it’s 9th. Not to bad but it lacks real big names at the moment. Not to be rude by the MLB media isn’t going crazy over Harrison Bader or Luke Weaver, and neither are other clubs. The Cardinals are restocking the system because they can’t outspend many of the other 20-bigger markets teams. So yes, they will have to build up from a weak system as of this moment, and trading the few above-average talents for superstars just isn’t going to happen.
Payroll: Currently sitting around $110,100,000 that number falls after the 2017 season to $83,500,000. The Cardinals on average since 2001 have a payroll of about $120,000,000. That will give not only $40-million to work with, but also by the beginning of the 2018 season a $1-billion dollar TV contract will be in play giving an annual amount of money the team earns from TV about $35-million to $55-million. A Net $20-million per year. Giving the Cardinals in theory $60-million a to work with come 2018. Why is that a big deal? Well let’s look at some free agents then.
Disclaimer: These people are projected to be free agents after the 2017 season and before the 2018 season. Some of these players have options, are arbitration eligible, still could be resigned, or are big pieces teams may trade soon. This list is by no means set in stone. All contracts looked at are via spotrac.com and potential free agents by the end of 2017 were found on Yahoo Sports.
Shohei Otani: the 22-year old mega prospect is basically Babe Ruth. Entering the majors over in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters at the age of 18, this pitcher/DH/ outfielder is 39-13 with a 2.49 ERA over his short 4-year career. As a hitter he hits .275 with 40-homeruns and 135 RBIs over his career. Basically he makes Madison Bumgarner look like an average pitcher who can rake. Do you pay his as a hitter? or Pitcher? Or both?
Carlos Gonzalez: Cargo has always been the trade bait that never gets a bite. Teams will be wanting him badly if he isn’t dealt and resigned this season. His big issue is health, but for that bat many teams will want him, but may not pay the 30+ million a year.
J.D. Martinez: An interesting story, cut by the Astros when they were really bad. Picked up by Detroit when they were really good. Proceeded to be a big time hitter, so maybe not the belle of the ball, but attractive.
Mike Moustakas: Goodbye Jhonny Peralta and your $10,000,000 per year deal. It actually was nice when healthy for the Cardinals in all seriousness. However Moustakas would be great to steal from across the state at a premium position.
Some other names that could be out there come 2018 would be Bryce Harper, who is rumored to want 400-million. yikes. A few more realistic names may be Manny Machado, AJ Pollock, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, and Andrew McCutchen.
So yes this offseason so far is far from over, and no big moves have been made. But maybe the Cardinals are waiting for a better free agent class, and more cash freed up for such a big play next year. As much as no one admits they aren’t going to win it all this season, maybe it is best long-term if the Cardinals do nothing this year and keep stocking draft picks, cash, and remaining a 91-win team over giving up an average farm, big league talent, bad contracts, and the future for a 95-win season.
As always send your hate on Twitter to @scottcriscione