St. Louis Cardinals: The impact of Jhonny Peralta’s return
The St. Louis Cardinals signed Ruben Tejada to a one-year contract as a stopgap for the injured everyday shortstop Jhonny Peralta. But what happens when Peralta returns this season?
Many fans were left scratching their heads when the St. Louis Cardinals awarded a one-year, major-league contract to Ruben Tejada this past weekend. These fans were confused because of the gluttony of shortstops in the organization.
Placing that aside, the experience offered by Tejada was the swaying factor in his signing. For more on the Tejada signing, jump over and read Steven’s review.
Fast-forward, if you will, to the time following the 2016 All-Star break when it can be assumed that Peralta will return. What happens within the organization? Who stays? Who goes? Is Tejada released? Is Greg Garcia released? Let’s dig into this.
As I’ve often done in articles like this, I think there is great value in looking at Peralta’s numbers as a point of reference.
In 2015, Peralta produced an offensive slash line of .275/.334/.411 and a defensive fielding percentage at shortstop of .986.
During today’s contest against the Marlins, the broadcast team noted Peralta’s fielding percentage as second best in baseball behind only Andrelton Simmons (.988).
Surely every organization examines the financial impacts of their players. Once Peralta (33 years old) returns, he should well return as the everyday shortstop. This means that his $12.5M will also return to activity.
In the organization- and at risk of being supplanted by Peralta’s return- is Greg Garcia (26 years old) at somewhere between $507,000 and $550,000 for 2016, Ruben Tejada (26 years old) at $1.5M for 2016, Jedd Gyorko (27 years old) at $4M for 2016, and this hidden gem of Aledmys Diaz (25 years old) is at $2M for 2016.
In terms of length of contract, Peralta is under contract through 2017. Garcia is under team control through 2017 then is arbitration eligible. Tejada is signed for 2016 only. Gyorko is under contract through 2019 with an option for 2020. Lastly, Diaz is under contract through 2017.
Do the above numbers indicate any movement by the club? Does the club need to move anything when Peralta returns?
It is important to note that Peralta’s return has very little impact on the money spent this season nor on impacted years of service. The numbers do, however, seem to indicate that Tejada and/or Garcia are the likeliest of these names to be dispatched once Peralta returns.
Performance Metrics- Offense
Peralta was projected to produce a 2016 slash line (according to Steamer) of .263/.328/.408. These numbers were projected prior to his injury so it might be safe to assume that these could come in lower than expected.
His replacement, Tejada, is projected to produce a slash line of .258/.331/.340. Based on these numbers alone, Tejada is a nice compliment to the absence of Peralta.
To the others on the team… Garcia is projected to produce a slash line of .253/.327/.342.
Gyorko is projected to produce a slash line of .254/.311/.422. Diaz is projected to produce a slash line of .256/.298/.382.
It is of great interest that all of these slash lines are so similar. Does this indicate any departures?
If each player listed matches these projections, keeping them all would be nice, but it is easy to see here too that Greg Garcia could be the odd man out.
These numbers, however, indicate to me that keeping Tejada through the season is a very real possibility.
Performance Metrics- Defense
Peralta, as was noted above, produced a 2015 fielding percentage of .986. His replacement, Tejada, produced a 2015 fielding percentage of .982.
Again, quite similar numbers.
An admission here: I’m more and more comfortable with this pick up on Tejada as I dig through these numbers.
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To the others on the team… Garcia produced a 2015 fielding percentage of .971. Gyorko produced a 2015 fielding percentage of .990. Diaz produced a 2015 fielding percentage of .974 in AAA.
Of interesting note here, the three players listed above all served at other positions as well but the percentages here were earned percentages at the shortstop position.
Examining these metrics, it again seems to indicate the lack of need for Greg Garcia. The metrics also indicate why the organization sought outside help (even in spite of Gyorko’s .990 percentage likely due to limited time appearing at short).
Taking all of the above information into account, it seems likely to me that once Peralta returns, Garcia is the most likely candidate to be sent packing.
I can certainly see him sitting the pine for the Cardinals until Peralta returns as security backup and thanks to his ability to play second and third as well but once Peralta returns I just don’t see his worth.
Before diving into these numbers, I would have told you that it was a safe bet to assume that Tejada could likely be released upon Peralta’s return.
I’m not completely stolen away from this idea but I can certainly see where he has value to remain with the team. The numbers above certainly do show the massive competition at shortstop that the inclusion of Tejada has created.
So, taking this newly-found value (for me at least) of Tejada into consideration, and in light of the fact that the numbers seem to indicate his and Garcia’s impacts, I would speculate that (1) Garcia is the first man out, (2) that 2016 could well be a full season spent in Memphis for Diaz, and (3) that Tejada has a probability of 80% to stay on the squad after the return of Peralta.
Next: Getting over Albert Pujols
Much is left to chance, for sure, but at this point, things seem a touch clearer for me. Follow me on Twitter and let’s keep our eye on the coming tempest that is Peralta’s return.