The St. Louis Cardinals have a few roster decisions to make at the end of Spring Training. One involves a middle infielder who has exhausted his options.
The way MLB contracts work under the previous and current CBA heavily rely upon a player’s contract options or the number of times he can be shipped back and forth between AAA and the MLB level. St. Louis Cardinals‘ middle infielder, Greg Garcia, is one player facing a contract issue this spring related to options.
Here’s the skinny (and not just because Garcia is a man of slight build), Garcia is under contract with the Cardinals for 2017 but his contract is out of options. This means that Greg must break spring training on the MLB roster or the organization must release him for waivers.
Let’s look at his history before diving into the case in favor of keeping him on the roster.
Garcia was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Hawaii. He has spent his entire baseball career with the Cardinals and has played at all of the organization’s levels.
Here’s a look at his offensive numbers through his rise:
Report from Baseball-Reference.com.
Notice that while not wowing anyone, his numbers are respectable. The profilers at Fangraphs are very kind to Garcia in their write-up. Jump over and review it where they comment that Garcia is a nice component to have on any team.
In addition to the kindness they heap upon Garcia, Fangraphs also provide Ultimate Zone Ratings for Garcia’s three positions: -1.0 for his MLB appearances at second base (233.2 innings), 1.5 for his MLB appearances at third base (135 innings), and 1.0 for his appearances at short stop (292.1 innings).
Like his offensive numbers above, his defense isn’t flashy but is good enough to serve as a backup and base hit threat off the bench.
Now to the point… Each of us here at Redbird Rants will be generating our opening day roster prediction pieces in the coming days but yesterday our co-editor, Brendan, kicked us off.
In his piece he highlighted the conundrum facing the Cardinals in the way of who will fill the remaining four slots on the roster. Garcia, Matt Adams, Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez, and Eric Fryer. The conundrum is made more complex by Garcia lacking options.
In his piece, Brendan kept Garcia on the roster and shipped Martinez to Memphis. While this is likely, I think it would be better to keep Martinez and ship off Pham. Why? Martinez is out-performing all of the Cardinals this spring and offers the ability to play first where Pham does not.
All of this could be moot if the St. Louis Cardinals read my rumor piece yesterday suggesting that Mozeliak phone the Colorado Rockies and offer Adams to them. Should Adams ship off for a new home, then the four slots can be filled by all the names listed save Adams and will require no decision on the part of the organization.
This solution, to me at least, is the most amenable and also affords the team two backup outfielders (Pham and Martinez) in addition to a power backup at first (Martinez). True, Adams is a power bat off the bench but he is a left-handed batter just as is Matt Carpenter. Usual backups/platoons are built from opposing handedness.
Thinking of Martinez vs. Adams as a power backup/platoon for Carpenter, let us look at their splits. Adams holds a career .212/.243/.352 against LHP. Martinez holds a career .500/.500/.583 against LHP (in a small sample size of twelve at-bats). Despite the limited at-bats, Martinez- a right-handed batter- shows better against LHP.
Again, this comparison would be moot if Adams is sent to Colorado (or anyone else for that matter). I also do not believe the organization would consider Adams-v-Martinez as a viable comparison for one of the remaining slots. Instead the comparison the organization would consider would be Pham-v-Martinez.
Let’s take a look. Pham, who I honestly believe is made of glass and is just a strong wind away from another injury, has batted .194/.286/.194 this spring in thirty-one at-bats. Martinez, tops of the team this spring, is batting .424/.500/.848 in thirty-three at-bats. Which would you take?
Notice that I haven’t discussed Eric Fryer at all. I simply consider him a wash and set to hold one of the four remaining slots automatically. That said then, if the St. Louis Cardinals want to keep Garcia- and I think they will and should- then they will have to decide what to do with Adams, Pham, and Martinez.
My solution is clear: either ship off Adams and have no decision to make, or put Adams on the roster and decide between Martinez and Pham. If the latter is the way the organization ultimately goes, then, to me, the decision has been made clear this spring.
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Having shown the case against Garcia’s competition for spots on the roster, let me defend why I think he is a valuable keep: should someone like Kolten Wong or Aledmys Diaz or Jhonny Peralta go down, without Garcia, the only backup would be Jedd Gyorko. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing when thinking of third or second, but Gyorko simply doesn’t instill confidence at short stop. In this case, then, Garcia is your best option as backup at short.
When thinking of Gyorko-v-Garcia, both are right-handed batters. Gyorko has a greater propensity for power but a lesser propensity for on-base-hits. To this point, Gyorko holds a career OBP of .296 where Garcia holds a career .377 OBP. Having both on the roster would, in my opinion, provide many greater options than excluding one.
I can easily see a scenario- I’m afraid to say- where both Garcia AND Gyorko could be needed to spell relief for injury (Peralta or Wong) and/or rest days for the names mentioned here. All-in-all, I want the Cardinals to keep Garcia as I am a huge fan. Don’t believe me? Jump over and read my justified love affair piece from a few weeks ago.
Let’s face it, if the Cardinals don’t keep Garcia, he will fly off of waivers. I cannot imagine a team letting him slip through their fingers when they could grab him for nothing. What do you think? Would you keep Garcia? Let me know on Twitter and thanks for reading!