Monday, December 10, 2018

Winter Meetings: What is on the Cardinals to do list?

With the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks last week, the Cardinals already checked one item off their to do list for this off season. Although another big bat, like Bryce Harper, would be nice, it doesn't appear to be in the Cards.

So, what is left on the Cardinals to do list for this off season?  Let's take a look:

1.  Strengthen the bullpen, particularly from the left side

The Cards still have two years and $15 million left on the regrettable Brett Cecil contract and while they don't want to make the same mistake again, they still need to strengthen the left side of their bullpen if they want to contend next year.

Derrick Goold indicates that the Cardinals are in on lefties Zach Britton and Andrew Miller.  Both have closing experience, which could allow the Cards to give Jordan Hicks more time to develop before thrusting him into that role.  

However, both Britton (Achilles) and Miller (shoulder) dealt with injuries last year and will not come cheap.  They are in high demand and will likely cost in excess of $30 million over 3 years.  While the Cards have the financial flexibility to make such a deal, its hard to see them go all in on either Britton or Miller after getting burned by Cecil.

If neither of them work out for the Cardinals, they could pivot to the next tier of lefties, such as Justin Wilson, Oliver Perez and/or Tony Sipp.

2.  Add a left handed bench bat, preferably one with some pop

The Cards entered this off season looking for a big bat, preferably one who hits left handed. 

However, they ended up with Goldschmidt.  

While that is all well and good, the Cardinals could still use some pop from the left side to keep opposing teams honest.

According to Goold, they have had talks with Daniel Descalso's agent about a possible reunion and Derek Dietrich is another possibility.  

Beyond that, there's not many appealing options on the free agent market, so the team might have to look inwards and hope they can make do with someone like the switch hitting Tommy Edman or lefty Max Schrock, although neither offers much pop. 

3.  Sort out the outfield logjam

According to Brendan Schaeffer, the Cardinals are going to give Dexter Fowler every opportunity to assume the everyday right field role in 2019.  While that is the PC thing to say, its hard to see him bouncing back from a .180/.278/.298 season that was cut short by a foot injury.

The Cards have Tyler O'Neil waiting in the wings, but he strikes out a ton (57 times in 130 at bats) and may not hit much better.

That leaves Jose Martinez.  He was the second best hitter on the team, in terms of OPS (behind only Matt Carpenter) and while his defense is much maligned, his DRS of -6 is only slightly worse than Fowler's -5 and his UZR of -1 is actually better than Fowler's -5.2 mark.

Long story short, I wouldn't give up on Martinez just yet.  While they are unlikely to be able to trade away Fowler and his hefty contract, especially given his down year, they could be willing to relegate him to a 4th outfielder/defensive replacement role.

In any case, it should be an interesting week.

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