St. Louis Cardinals Acquire Jedd Gyorko


Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In their first major move of the off-season, the St. Louis Cardinals acquire infielder Jedd Gyorko

Early on the morning of the Winter Mettings’ second day, the St. Louis Cardinals made their first major move, acquiring infielder Jedd Gyorko and $7.5 million from the San Diego Padres in exchange for outfielder Jon Jay.

The clubs have not made a formal announcement of the deal yet. The cash may not be set in stone, although the number was originally reported as $17 million. But the trade is complete for all intents and purposes, and Gyorko (pronounced “yer-ko”) is the newest member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The San Diego Padres drafted Gyorko in the second round of the 2010 draft. The former West Virginia Mountaineer signed as a third baseman and moved to second base later in his minor league career. By mid-season 2012, Gyorko had become a top-50 prospect according to Baseball America

Gyorko enjoyed a solid debut in 2013, accumulating 2.4 fWAR, 23 home runs, and a .249/.301/.444 slash-line over 525 at-bats. Unfortunately, in the two seasons since then, Gyorko hasn’t fared quite as well, hitting just .229/.289/.365 over 2014 and 2015. With the ability to play second, third, and shortstop, it seems that the St. Louis Cardinals have found their super utility player for the coming years.

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In exchange, the St. Louis Cardinals gave up long-time center fielder Jon Jay. After a number of good seasons, Jay struggled to stay on the field in 2015, and his performance when he did play was sub-par. Still, he has been a solid reserve player for the St. Louis Cardinals and has even held down the starting role a number of times.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ outfield depth made Jay superfluous this off-season, and a trade was widely expected. The Padres have had some trouble finding a player capable of manning center defensively, so Jay may well be their starting center fielder going forward.

At first glance, Gyorko doesn’t look like a great player, but at age 26 he still has some room to grow. He isn’t so far removed from a good season to believe that a change of scenery might not help him. In particular, his power is an asset that the Cardinals have been missing. Gyorko’s 49 home runs over the past three years while playing in Petco Park could make him an exciting addition.

Right now, it looks like he’ll be Pete Kozma‘s replacement on the St. Louis Cardinals bench, hopefully giving Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, and Jhonny Peralta a few days off. Gyorko’s career splits against lefties (.260/.335/.441) make him a strong choice to fill in for both Wong and Carpenter when needed.

Unfortunately, Gyorko’s contract isn’t entirely inconsequential. He’s owed $32 million over the next four years, with a $13 million option in 2020 (and a $1 million buyout). After you subtract Jon Jay’s $6.2 million dollar salary in 2016 and the extra $7.5 million the Padres are sending with Gyorko, the St. Louis Cardinals will owe their new player about $19.3 million (including the $1 million buyout).

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All in all, I really like the deal for the Cardinals. They’ve taken their 30-year-old fifth outfielder with one year of control and turned him into a 26-year-old utility player with five years of control who can help keep both Wong and Peralta fresh.

Although Gyorko will cost a little more than the St. Louis Cardinals would like to pay for a bench piece, his pop and upside make him a pretty good addition.