St. Louis Cardinals: How will the team eventually replace Matt Holliday?

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Oct 10, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitter Randal Grichuk (15) hits a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning in game two of the NLDS at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Can Piscotty, Pham, and Grichuk live up to the hype?

Unless we believe that Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and Tommy Pham are all good enough to be full-time starters in 2017, the Cardinals may have an opening for a full-time outfielder next offseason.

If the Cardinals are happy with the outfielders that they currently have, then they could simply wait a year and sign another outfielder when they know they will actually need one.  The only problem however with this approach is that there may not be any good outfielders on the free agent market a year from now.

The only players of note who will be available in a year are Josh Reddick, Carlos Gomez, and Jose Bautista.Reddick is not quite on the same level as the Upton/Cespedes/Gordon types, as he has not produced more than 3.0 fWAR since 2012.

Gomez has elite potential, as he produced a total of 13.1 fWAR in 2013 and 2014 through a combination of elite center field defense and solidly above average offense.  He was not the same in 2015, though, in large part due to injuries, and it remains to be seen whether he can continue to perform at such an elite level.

Bautista has been the most consistent of the three, but he will be 36 after next season and would probably not be a good fit for a National league team given his defensive struggles.

Unless for some reason there is another player that emerges in an unexpected way in his walk year, it appears that the Cardinals will have difficulty finding an above average outfielder on the free agent market a year from now.

For this exact reason though, they should at least still be open-minded about signing one of the remaining free agent outfielders this offseason.  In a weird way, this kind of signing may provide more of an upgrade for the Cardinals in 2017 and beyond than in 2016, even if this player is more productive overall in 2016.

All of this will really just depend on how well the Cardinals can evaluate their current outfielders, both at the major and minor league levels.  They must first decide whether Holliday is going to be worth his 2017 option, as his presence on the team that year would seem to lessen the need for an extra outfielder.

In addition, they must determine whether players like Piscotty, Grichuk, and Pham are best suited for everyday or part-time roles going forward.  Then lastly, the Cardinals must evaluate their minor league options and determine if they will be able to fill their outfield spots internally.