St. Louis Cardinals: Big names wishful and expensive and doable


With the 2017 season coming to a dramatic conclusion last night, the St. Louis Cardinals’ offseason can officially kick into gear. Can the birds land some big names? Can they afford them?

The St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to many names already and the offseason has yet to begin. Be these names include Juan Nicasio, other names already on the squad who could well become released or qualified-offered, or large names who could test the Cardinals’ wallets. The real question is what can the organization reasonably do with what they reasonably have?

As the World Series came to a close last night, the baseball world can immediately spin into gear. GMs will begin making tough decisions about names, etc. This is what we fans are to believe. That said, we should all admit that much work has already transpired about which fans are not aware.

To that end, is it reasonable then to expect that the St. Louis Cardinals already have a gentleman’s agreement in place with Nicasio for his services beyond the rental period of 2017? Is it reasonable to expect that Mozeliak has already called agents for big names like Giancarlo Stanton?

Let’s push all of that aside and simply enjoy the rumor mill– something I love about baseball.

Yesterday, while patrolling Twitter, I stumbled upon the following tweet:

Using this as a jumping spot, let’s assume that all things are equal and that the St. Louis Cardinals are tops on the lists of each of these names. An examination is necessary, however, to see if the Cards can even afford such names.

Giancarlo Stanton

The Miami Marlins have admitted that they plan on selling Stanton and keeping Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna to cut down on their payroll numbers. Enter the rumors of big clubs like the Yankees and Red Sox who might be real, honest contenders for this slugger. At the same time, the Cardinals and Cubs are rumored to be competitive landing spots.

Regardless of who picks up the slugger, a large purse is necessary as Stanton is signed through 2027. That’s right, signed for the next ten years. Oh, and this is the time in the lengthy contract when Stanton’s annual value takes a gigantic leap forward. In 2017, Stanton was paid $14.5M but in 2018 leaps into the $20M+ range.

Here’s a look at his remaining breakdown:

201828Miami Marlins$25,000,000
201929Miami Marlins$26,000,000
202030Miami Marlins$26,000,000may opt out of contract following 2020 season
202131Miami Marlins$29,000,000
202232Miami Marlins$29,000,000
202333Miami Marlins$32,000,000
202434Miami Marlins$32,000,000
202535Miami Marlins$32,000,000
202636Miami Marlins$29,000,000
202737Miami Marlins$25,000,000
202838Miami Marlins*$25,000,000$25M Team Option, $10M Buyout

I’d be happy to take one percent of those figures but either way the landing team will need to be prepared to pay at least $77MM until 2020 after which point Stanton can opt out of his contract.

Josh Donaldson

While I’m not sold on the Cardinals picking up Stanton, I really wish the birds on the bat would grab Donaldson while the getting is good.

Donaldson is arbitration-eligible for the 2018 season and, according to MLBTR, is likely to land an approximate $20.7M for 2018 from the Blue Jays. If the St. Louis Cardinals were interested in grabbing him, I wonder if he could be had for a three- or five-year deal with an AAV of $22-23M and even buying out the arbitration year?

Using Stanton as the litmus test with his $25M in ’18, and $26M in ’19 and ’20, I feel the St. Louis Cardinals, and every other club in the majors will be hesitant to push Donaldson much higher than $23M per year.

If you are keeping score at home, and if we continue our assumption that the St. Louis Cardinals grab both of the names above, we must recognize that the birds will have encumbered $379M in these two names (10 years for Stanton and 3 years for Donaldson).

…but we are playing in hypothetical here!

Yu Darvish

Moving to the mound, and yet another name that I would really love to see the St. Louis Cardinals grab, Yu Darvish makes a lot of sense for the birds especially in light of their new pitching coach and his past experience coaching this great arm.

As I wrote this piece, as a disclosure, Darvish hadn’t fared well in game seven of the 2017 World Series but let us ignore this fact in light of his 2017 3.44 ERA across 49.2 innings with the Dodgers and his 4.01 ERA in 137 innings with the Rangers. These stats, while not top-of-the-rotation factors, show that Darvish can perform in 186+ innings in a season.

Would a move to the weakened NL-Central (assuming it remains weaker than teams faced in the American League) and back with his coach Mike Maddux have a renaissance for Darvish? I sure would like to see the Cardinals take the gamble.

To the money, then, Darvish is a free agent in 2018 and is 31 years old. His last contract was with the Rangers and was a 6yr/$56M deal. With Darvish’s age, the signing team would be wise to risk nothing more than a 3-5 year deal. Noting his $11M salary in 2017, I suspect a 3yr/$45M would be the top floor of any deal with a total package of $39M as the bottom floor.

Adding Darvish to the Stanton and Donaldson team would mean that the St. Louis Cardinals would need to encumber $424M at the top of the range. This money would therefore be tied into three-year deals with Donaldson and Darvish with the remaining $310M tied for another seven years into Stanton.

Chris Archer

Staying on the pitching mound, the St. Louis Cardinals might think it nice to go after Chris Archer to stock the starting rotation. The Cardinals have been rumored to have interest in Archer in the past and the general thought is that with the addition of Maddux, the Cardinals might stand a decent chance of landing this power arm.

Archer, like Stanton before him, is under contract through 2019 meaning that the St. Louis Cardinals would need to trade for him. That shouldn’t be a problem, however, since the Cardinals have a stockpile of players.

In addition to sharing talent, the Cards would need to pick up Archer’s contract that is set to pay him just above $6.4M in 2018, just above $7.6M in 2019, and then the 2020 and 2021 years hold options valued respectively at $9M and $11M.

These financial numbers make sense when you are thinking of adding a career 11.8 WAR pitcher with a career WHIP of 1.214. Additionally, Archer has been a reliable arm amassing 200+ innings on the mound in the past three seasons.

More from St Louis Cardinals Rumors

To the math then… If Archer is added to the three names listed above, the St. Louis Cardinals are looking to add $23M to the total if Archer serves for three years (makes thing easier when including him in the figures so that he matches Donaldson and Darvish). This means that the Cards would need to spend $447M on these four names. This breaks down to be $137M in ’18, ’19, and ’20 and then $310M the following seven seasons.

Let’s assume this happens; what would the Cardinals look like with these names? On the pitching side of things, the starting rotation could look like:

Carlos Martinez

Yu Darvish

Chris Archer

Luke Weaver/Michael Wacha

Alex Reyes/Jack Flaherty/Wacha

On the starting fielding roster, the addition of Stanton and Donaldson would really change the dynamics. The Cardinals lineup could look like:

Dexter Fowler– CF/LF

Tommy Pham– CF/LF

Stanton- RF

Donaldson- 3B/1B

Jedd Gyorko– 3B/1B

Paul DeJong– SS

Yadier Molina– C

Kolten Wong– 2B


It isn’t my money, but I would- without a doubt- take both of those scenarios above. And, yes, the lineup is absent Matt Carpenter— I believe he is one of the first to be sent packing this offseason.

Next: Six closers the Cards should consider

Whether this highly-fictionalized world comes to fruition or not, the St. Louis Cardinals must make changes this offseason and the clock starts today. Tick, tock, Mozeliak/Girsch. Tick, tock.