The St. Louis Cardinals need to improve this offseason and one such way would be to add an outstanding veteran to the short stop position.
The St. Louis Cardinals need to get better if they hope to return to their glory days of winning the NL-Central and going to the postseason. Admittedly, this could come in many ways: firing Mike Matheny (my deep wish), addition by subtraction (an article I’ll be penning later), and by adding impact players.
If you missed my article detailing the rumor of Eric Hosmer, jump here and have a look. Hosmer would be a slight improvement but only slightly and his greatest impact would be defensively. Well… that is until you think of his dWAR. Check the article for more on this.
In that same article, however, I mentioned an idea that seems smarter to me. This idea involved shedding Matt Carpenter and using Paul DeJong and Jedd Gyorko as platoon players at first and third. By moving DeJong to these positions, it will open short stop for an improvement.
Why? Well, while DeJong was good at short stop- better than Aledmys Diaz– the middle infield could be shored-up even more. DeJong’s serviceable .975 fielding percentage and 0.4 dWAR could certainly be improved upon and this is one place the infield could use improvement without losing DeJong on the team.
In my Hosmer piece I alluded to the St. Louis Cardinals grabbing Andrelton Simmons rather than the first baseman from Kansas City. Here’s why: Simmons is one of the best short stops in the game (at least today) with a .982 fielding percentage and a 21.9 dWAR. Yes, you are reading that correctly– a 21.9 dWAR.
Just imagine adding that defense to the infield! If the St. Louis Cardinals move DeJong and Gyorko to first/third (doesn’t really matter who plays where), account for Kolten Wong at second base, and then add Simmons at short stop, the infield dWAR would be as follows going around the horn:
1B- 1.2 (Gyorko)
3B- 0.4 (DeJong)
Yes, these figures say the players will continue at the pace they have held thus far in their career, but I (for one) would be far more comfortable with these numbers than what the St. Louis Cardinals paraded out in 2017. Have a look:
1B- negative 2.8 (Carpenter)
2B- 2.8 (Wong)
SS- 0.4 (DeJong)
3B- 1.2 (Gyorko)
If we take a direct comparison of both of these defensive alignments, we see that the alignment that includes Simmons totals to a 26.3 aggregate dWAR while the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals alignment totals to only 1.6 dWAR. Wow, right? By adding Simmons, the 2018 St. Louis Cardinals could arguably be 24.7 dWAR points higher.
How about offensively? Simmons, while not the potential power bat that the St. Louis Cardinals say they are searching for, is not a terrible batter. In his six-year career, he has posted a slash line of .264/.313/.375. While not a power threat, he did hit 38 doubles and 14 home runs in 2017.
Matt Carpenter, by the way, in his seven-year career has posted a slash of .277/.377/.460 showing just slightly more power than that of Simmons. In 2017, to continue the comparisons, Carp hit 31 doubles and 23 home runs. In short, losing Carpenter and replacing his bat with that of Simmons would not overly hurt and would certainly improve the defense.
How about cost? Simmons is under team control through 2020 and is set to make $11MM in ’18, $13MM in ’19, and $15MM in ’20. These are very manageable numbers for the St. Louis Cardinals and would allow them buy a more expensive bat on the market as well.
More from Redbird Rants
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- Report: Cardinals Emerge As Mystery Team for Carlos Rodon
- Cardinals: Trade targets after signing Willson Contreras
- Reflecting on the 2013 Cardinals’ top 30 prospects
Carpenter, by the way, is under team control through 2019 (so Simmons would provide one additional year of control). He is set to make $13.75MM in ’18 (some $2.75MM more than Simmons), and $14.75MM in ’19 (some $1.75MM more than Simmons). Carpenter also has an $18.5MM team option for 2020 with a $2MM buyout that would become someone else’s problem if the Cardinals trade him.
These contracts show that the St. Louis Cardinals will need to do some wheeling and dealing to get Simmons and offload Carpenter. That is not to say that it cannot be done nor is it to say that it should not be done. It will just take some work.
What would it take to get Simmons? Stay tuned for my follow-up piece to this one wherein I look at what the St. Louis Cardinals would need to offer to get the short stop in my opinion. In the meantime, I hope you’ll share your feelings with me on Twitter.
Would you make this move? What do you think it would take to land Simmons? Let me know on Twitter and look for my follow-up piece detailing what I think it would take to land Simmons. Thanks for reading.