St. Louis Cardinals Face Competition For Jake Odorizzi


Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Bad news, St. Louis Cardinals fans. The team is just one of several wooing the Tampa Bay Rays for 25-year-old starter Jake Odorizzi. And one in particular has better prospects.

I’m talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of a handful of teams that arguably has had a worse offseason than the St. Louis Cardinals. No, strike that. We’ve had it worse.

At least CBS lead baseball writer and breaking news impresario Jon Heyman thinks so. On his list of biggest non-winners of the offseason now that we’re at the midway point, he lists the St. Louis Cardinals at number one. It’s hard to argue his point.

"… Lackey and Heyward both bolted for less loot with the rival Cubs. Lance Lynn needed Tommy John surgery, Yadier Molina needed a second thumb surgery and Randal Grichuk had a sports hernia. While only Lynn is expected to miss time (he’ll be out for all of ’16) that’s a lot of pain. GM John Mozeliak says not to expect a “dynamic” signing now after offering $190 million for Price and $200 million for Heyward. But the Cardinals look significantly weakened from a year ago."

Indeed, Jon Heyman. Indeed. And the reporter delivered another body blow later in the piece, suggesting that the three-team Todd Frazier trade the Dodgers were involved in with the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds might set them up to pry Odorizzi — and perhaps lefthanders Matt Moore and/or Drew Smyly — from the Rays.

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The trade yielded the Dodgers three young players, and Heyman seems to think flame-throwing 22-year-old righthander Frankie Montas, who came from the Sox, is the tastiest Rays bait. From Baseball America‘s analysis of the trade:

"Montas pitches in the high 90s, touches 100 mph regularly and averaged nearly 97 in his seven-game big league debut. He doesn’t lose velocity on his top-of-the-scale fastball even when he piles up high-pitch innings as a starter. Neither does he generate as many swings and misses as his velocity would suggest, owing to below-average command and inconsistent secondary stuff that allows hitters to sit dead red too often."

The Dodgers already had one of the best farm systems in the game before adding Montas. And while the trade took from said farm system, it didn’t cost L.A. upper-end talent.

But that’s not what worries me. No, what really concerns me that the St. Louis Cardinals won’t get Odorizzi is the tie between the Dodgers and Rays. Remember, Dodgers president of baseball operations and Moneyball-era demigod Andrew Friedman used to be the general manager in Tampa, where he departed on good terms.

Full disclosure: I’m a fatalist. Laying all this out on the page makes me feel pretty sure that the St. Louis Cardinals are screwed — again. I hope I’m wrong this time.