St. Louis Cardinals: An Innovative Approach to Fixing the Bullpen

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 27: Mike Maddux #51 of the Washington Nationals looks on as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on May 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 27: Mike Maddux #51 of the Washington Nationals looks on as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on May 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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ST. LOUIS, MO – MAY 16: Reliever Brett Cecil
ST. LOUIS, MO – MAY 16: Reliever Brett Cecil /

Approaches to fixing the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen are something the organization needs to consider this offseason.

The rumor mill is filled with potential fixes to the back end of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen.  Indeed, various writers on this site advocate for and against big free agent closers such as Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Addison Reed, and Juan Nicasio.

There are certainly merits for and against each of these veteran relievers.

Some of the writers here want to pass on these veterans in favor of letting young studs like Sandy Alcantara throw 1,000-mile per hour missiles in the late innings next year. Others advocate for signing one or two of these bullpen pieces.

I write to offer you a slightly different perspective: the St. Louis Cardinals should sign all four relievers.

In order to understand my theory, one must understand two reasons underlying my approach.  First, I was inspired, as the St. Louis Cardinals should be, by the cunning tactics of Yankee GM Brian Cashman. Yes, just a couple years ago, Cashman flipped low-level prospects for Aroldis Chapman and also signed Andrew Miller to a four year, thirty-six million dollar deal.

When the Yankees went into sell mode, Cashman intelligently sold off two of the three heads of his late-inning hydra to the Cubs and Indians, respectively. What did the Yankees net in return?

The Yankees netted some of the top prospects in baseball including Adam Warren, Gleyber Torres, Billy Mckinney, Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield. For this haul, the Yankees lost half a season of Chapman (who they then re-signed) and a couple years of Miller.

The moral of the story is that Cashman realized he could have one of the best bullpens in the league and that he could flip one of his many closers for highly touted position-player prospects.  This approach worked, and it cost the Yankees little more than dollars.

The St. Louis Cardinals, meanwhile, are continuously touted as one of the most profitable teams in baseball.  The team is always boasting its ability to one day flex its financial muscles to reassert dominance in the NL-Central.  This team is also reluctant to part with prospects in trades.

Thus, the second position underlying my approach requires the St. Louis Cardinals to put their money where their mouth is.

The St. Louis Cardinals should sign all four of Nicasio, Reed, Davis, and Holland.  These four late-inning monsters would give the Cardinals the best bullpen in the National League when you combine them with some combination of Matt Bowman, Tyler Lyons, Brett Cecil, and John Brebbia/John Gant/Sandy Alcantara.

In this article, I highlight the statistics and potential acquisition cost of each of the aforementioned relievers based on (1) prior earnings and age; (2) last season performance; (3) market research on comparable players and hometown discount if any; and (4) the opinions of other writers on this site.

At the end of this article, I am hopeful that you will agree that investing larger dollars in the bullpen will help advance this team towards the playoffs.  If the move doesn’t work, the St. Louis Cardinals can attempt to flip these cost-controlled relievers (even if it means eating dollars) for prospects at the trade deadline.

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