St. Louis Cardinals: The Case For a Toronto Trade

michaeldavidmiles
Oct 7, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20), second baseman Darwin Barney (18), shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2), and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) talk during a pitching change against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning of game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20), second baseman Darwin Barney (18), shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2), and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) talk during a pitching change against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning of game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Toronto Blue Jays 2016 season has come to an end at the hands of the World Series-bound Cleveland Indians.  That said, the St. Louis Cardinals should target a few blue birds to change their feather colors to red.

The St. Louis Cardinals are seeking outfield help, offensive help, and infield help.  The Toronto Blue Jays have outfielders, offensive powerhouses, and infield utility players.  Two of these blue birds are facing contract status talks that might interest the Cardinals; let’s take a look.

One of the things we aim to do here at Redbird Rants this season is to target players on season-exiting teams as potential trade targets for the St. Louis Cardinals.  In previous posts we have looked at players on the Texas Rangers and today we will examine the Blue Jays.  Specifically, let’s look at Kevin Pillar and Darwin Barney.

The St. Louis Cardinals would love to find a new center fielder.  Is Pillar that player?  Pillar enters the winter without a contract but under Blue Jays team control.  Kevin’s first arbitration-eligible year is 2018 and his first free agency year is 2021.  This type of controlled player has interested the Cardinals in the past but should they consider Pillar?

Let’s look at his career offensive numbers which have all come with the Toronto Blue Jays:

YearAgeGABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2013243610211214031301429.206.250.333.583
201425531161931902712428.267.295.397.692
2015261595867616331212562542885.278.314.399.713
201627146548591463527531462490.266.303.376.679
4 Yrs394135216536179424129401360232.267.303.385.688
162 Game Avg.1625566814832210531652595.267.303.385.688

This is a nice player for sure.  His power is decent-to-good and he hits for a respectable average.  I wonder how he might fare in the National League.  I also wonder how he might fare with different players surrounding him.  Of interest to me is his stolen base count which would be of great benefit to the St. Louis Cardinals.

For comparison sake, let’s look at Randal Grichuk‘s career numbers as he would be the player being supplanted by Pillar:

YearAgeGABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201422471101127613802531.245.278.400.678
201523103323498923717474222110.276.329.548.877
2016241324466610729324685428141.240.289.480.769
3 Yrs2828791262235811441239855282.254.302.495.797
162 Game Avg.1625057212833625715532162.254.302.495.797

Notice any similarities?  I certainly do.  While Pillar hits for average at a better rate, barely, than Grichuk, the numbers are staggeringly similar.  The exception, of course, is the stolen base count.  Is the stolen base count enough to suggest moving Grichuk to left and grabbing Pillar?  I hope not.

Before moving on, let’s also add that Grichuk was paid $520,000 in 2016 while Pillar was paid $521,000.  Just another similarity…

Let’s move on now to Darwin Barney.  Barney, no stranger to the NL-central, has turned himself into a utility player aiming at “super utility” status.  In 2016, Barney appeared at second, short stop, third, and the outfield.  Could the St. Louis Cardinals use a player like Barney to help shore-up defense and make appearances in the outfield too?

Let’s take a look at Barney’s offensive numbers:

YearAgeTmLgGABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201024CHCNL30791219400200612.241.294.291.585
201125CHCNL14352966146236243922267.276.313.353.666
201226CHCNL15654873139264744613358.254.299.354.653
201327CHCNL14150149104251741423664.208.266.303.569
201428TOTNL942372457112323101734.241.300.342.642
201428CHCNL72204184710221610931.230.265.328.594
201428LADNL223361010170083.303.467.424.891
201529TOTMLB17274710240012.259.286.519.804
201529LADNL240000000000.000.000.000.000
201529TORAL15234710240012.304.333.609.942
201630TORAL1042793575132419222248.269.322.373.695
7 Yrs68522002635471031525176227137285.249.297.343.641
162 Game Avg.16252062129244642523267.249.297.343.641
NL (6 yrs)5661898224465891319153205114235.245.293.336.629
AL (2 yrs)1193023982142623222350.272.323.391.714

This seven-year veteran has appeared in the NL and AL and, as you can see above, has fared slightly better in the American League.  That said, the difference isn’t that remarkable.  While Barney has acquired postseason experience, I’m not sold that he is a viable solution the St. Louis Cardinals should seek.

For comparison sake let’s look at Kolten Wong.  Why Wong?  For starters, Wong began working in 2016 to improve his utility abilities by adding playing time in center field.  Here’s a look at his offensive numbers:

YearAgeTmGABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201322STL325969100030312.153.194.169.363
201423STL1134025210014312422042171.249.292.388.680
201524STL1505577114628411611583695.262.321.386.707
201625STL121313397577523703452.240.327.355.682
4 Yrs4161331168330501428126451294230.248.309.370.678
162 Game Avg.1625186512919511491853790.248.309.370.678

Notice the similarities to Barney?  Offensively there isn’t much to separate these players.  Defensively, however, Barney does play a greater number of positions than does Wong but is that enough to warrant a kicking of the tires?

More from St Louis Cardinals Rumors

By the way, Wong was paid $1.25M in 2016 and is under a contract that takes him through 2020 with a team option for 2021.  Barney was paid $1.05M in 2016 and has no contract for 2017 but is under team control with his first arbitration year in 2017 and his free agency year in 2018.  I just don’t see the Cardinals moving to a player like Barney when they have a player like Wong.  Now the challenge will be to find regular playing time for Wong.  Do you hear that, Mike Matheny?

So, in looking at these two names, I feel that the case for a Toronto trade is severely weakened.  Actually, no, I believe the case for a Toronto trade- at least involving these names- is not one the St. Louis Cardinals should find of any interest.  These are decent players, yes, but if decent is what the winter will bring then we should expect similar results in ’17 as we had in ’16.

Next: AFL Check In

Please, Mozeliak, contemplate this winter deeply and work hard to take these St. Louis Cardinals from decent to great!  Thanks for reading!

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