Whether the St. Louis Cardinals play past these next two games or not, there is certainly a great deal of work needed in the off-season for a better roster.
The St. Louis Cardinals alerted and disappointed fans on Friday by announcing that the organization is likely not paying the $17M 2017 option on Matt Holliday‘s contract. Instead, the organization will pay the $1M buy-out and move on. This is the first step in what will likely be many to work on this not-so-strong roster.
The St. Louis Cardinals must first face two win-or-go-home games to close the 2016 season. Michael Wacha toes the rubber in today’s match-up and all of Cardinals Nation holds its collective breath. Should the Cardinals lose and the Giants win either in today’s contests or in tomorrow’s contest then the Birds are eliminated. For more on the potential scenarios, jump over and read our scenarios review.
So, let’s look at what should happen during the off-season as it relates to the Cardinals roster. While not belaboring the point, I’ll take a quick look at some categories and then submit some wish list items.
Would-be Free Agents
We know that Holliday looks to be a free agent with the Cardinals electing to not pay the $17M option. Jaime Garcia has a $12M option for 2017 and his status will likely be updated soon. Brandon Moss is a would-be free agent and is currently without an available option for 2017. Trevor Rosenthal is arbitration eligible after 2016.
Continuing, Seung-Hwan Oh is an unrestricted free agent for 2017, as is Jordan Walden. Matt Adams, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Kevin Siegrist, and Tyler Lyons are all arbitration-eligible like Rosenthal. In short, the organization has a lot of work to do after the conclusion of 2016.
Of these free agents, I would love to see the team offer Holliday a one-year contract or some other way to keep him a Cardinal. I could also see the team picking up Jaime’s option since the free agent class is weak with lefties. I’m not a real fan of this but understand the math behind it. If this happens, I hope the team starts moving him quickly.
Of the other names listed here, I hope that Oh is retained, Martinez is retained, and I’m even willing to say that Siegrist (although not my favorite) should be retained. The rest, in my opinion, can go. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, to see a qualifying offers issued to Moss (although I don’t think it will happen) in order to pick up a draft pick to help rebuild the weakened farm.
The St. Louis Cardinals, in addition to their numerous potential free agents, have a good number of players who are under team control but whose 2017s aren’t already contracted.
Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham, and Greg Garcia are under team control for 2017. Of these, I think we can safely assume that Piscotty and Grichuk will receive contracts. Pham and Garcia are the toss-ups. Perhaps these two will get minor league deals though…
GM Mozeliak stated this past week that he intends to focus on defense in the off-season. I feel that this is appropriate and likely means that the Cardinals will examine their weaknesses in center field and their error-filled infield.
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Grichuk will likely move to a corner outfield spot and could replace Holliday in left. This leaves a need for a real center fielder. Ready for the list of free agent names in CF? Jon Jay, Rajai Davis, Austin Jackson, Sam Fuld, Franklin Gutierrez, Jordan Schafer, Eric Young Jr., Will Venable, Shane Robinson, Emilio Bonifacio, Don Kelly, Carlos Gomez, Drew Stubbs, and Michael Bourn. Of these, perhaps the Cardinals will take the risk on Gomez or Bourn that they didn’t take this season. Others are to-be-passed. The CF solution might come via trade as well.
In the infield, third base and second base need the most help in my opinion. Neil Walker is a free agent and could be a nice addition to second base. Aaron Hill is a free agent and could be a nice addition to third base. Other than those names, the FA class in these positions is sleepy. Perhaps a trade will be the solution for the infield.
How about some big names? Could the St. Louis Cardinals go big to replace Holliday and others? Should they dive into the Carlos Gonzalez market or maybe a Mark Trumbo (FA) or maybe even a Jose Bautista (FA)? These would be expensive additions but might change the dynamic altogether.
What about pitching? Pitching in 2016 was confounding to say the least. While I agree that pitching needs a touch of help, I think the organization structure is fairly full and will provide a good deal of competition in spring. This is likely Mozeliak’s thinking too and will likely keep him from putting attention in this area during the winter. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if a deal is made to shock us all.
What do you think? Who would you want? Let us know on Twitter and stay with us as we will keep you updated as soon as we hear or know anything (oh, and we will help spread rumors too)!