Like most (if not all) of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened upon learning of the death of Oscar Taveras. Not only did the Cardinals lose a potential star in the making, but they also lost an incredible person both on and off the field. My condolences go out to the Taveras' family and friends, as well as those of his girlfriend, who was also killed in the accident.
Taveras will be missed.
Now, the Cardinals have to move past the tragedy and try to build a team capable of beating the Giants and making it to next year's fall classic.
To start off with, the Cards will have to find a replacement for Taveras. Randal Grichuk, who was slated to compete with Taveras for the right field job, could get the nod, and the team also has Stephen Piscotty waiting in the wings.
However, Jennifer Langosch is reporting that the Cardinals could look outside of the organization for a right fielder.
If the Cardinals do look outside the organization for a right fielder, what are their options?
Here are some free agent possibilities:
Probably at the top of many teams' lists is Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas, a right-handed corner outfield who reportedly has "huge power". He is just 24 years old and is expected to get somewhere in the neighborhood of a 7-year, $100 million contract. However, there are already several teams vying for his service, which could result if a bidding war, something the Cards may want to avoid.
Markakis is a decent right fielder with a good career OBP (.358) and a little pop (.435 SLG). The Orioles did not make him a qualifying offer, meaning he is not tied to any draft picks, thus making him all the more attractive. He is only 30 years old and will likely be seeking something in the neighborhood of 4 years/$65 million.
Cruz, 34, led all
of MLB with 40 homers in 2014 and is arguably the best power hitter on
the market. For a team that finished last in the NL in home runs, that
certainly holds some appeal. However, he is limited defensively and,
with Matt Holliday patrolling left field, the Cardinals may not want to
further damage their defense.
Morse could be a decent stop gap option if the team feels that Randal Grichuk just needs a little more time before he's ready. As a right hander capable of playing first, he could also be worked into a platoon with Matt Adams. He's only 32, but seems to be on the down slope of his career.
Another potential stop gap, Rios offers little power, but hits for a decent average and destroys lefties (.325 average against in 2014). He will turn 34 next year andcould be had on a one year deal in order to build value.
Overall, the Cardinals have been saying they are willing to increase their payroll and with little other needs, a quality right fielder might be the best way to spend that money. Tomas would be my first choice, with Markakis second. Beyond that and you begin to wonder if any of the players would be an upgrade over Grichuk.