Now that the St. Louis Cardinals and the rest of MLB is in off-season mode, I started thinking about what my ideal wish list for the off-season would be.
The St. Louis Cardinals, perhaps, are on the edge of the most important off-season in quite some time. After having missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, the Cardinals cannot afford to miss the playoffs for a third straight season. The team must bounce back and reach the playoffs in 2018 or risk losing support from the fan base.
While I don’t think the fans would stage a mass revolt, it’s clear something needs to be done. John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch seem to have put the St. Louis Cardinals in a position to compete this off-season. But as we all know, the Cardinals will fact stiff competition for some of the premier players linked with the team.
I am definitely anxious to see how this off-season plays out, so here are my top five things on my wish list for this off-season.
St. Louis Cardinals acquire Giancarlo Stanton
I’m sure this is on everyone’s wish list, but this is something the Cardinals need to buck up and get done. Last season, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty could not play consistent baseball, plus added really no threat in the lineup. Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton went on to have an MVP-type of season for a team struggling to stay relevant.
Last night on the Official Redbird Rants podcast, both Dan and I agreed it would be a cost worth paying for, for the time being. The one stipulation where both of us stalled on was Stanton’s player opt-out clause. Does the risk of sending players and eating salary justify a player for three seasons? We think so, but I do want to point out something Dan mentioned in the podcast to ease some fears.
Dan suggested we keep in mind the present value of Stanton’s contract to what it would be like in 2020, assuming he becomes a free agent. The rest of his $325 million contract doesn’t seem so bad compared to what it may be like when players such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado may command contracts in the $400-500 million range.
I’ve seen suggestions to not give up on Piscotty or Grichuk just yet. While I’d say i’m not ready to give up on at least one of those players, I think the Cardinals understand Stanton would improve their team ten-fold.
Sign the best available closer at the time and sign Juan Nicasio to be the set-up man
Since Trevor Rosenthal‘s injury, the St. Louis Cardinals’ wheels started turning on who the next closer will be. I don’t believe the team has faith in Seung-hwan Oh anymore, and of the other pitchers who assumed the closer’s role, Juan Nicasio was the best one. However, he is also a free agent.
To be honest, I am a little surprised the Cardinals haven’t announced a deal with Nicasio. After all, there is mutual interest between both parties to reach a deal, but most likely the details are still being hammered out. I would guess the parties are stalling on how many years the Cardinals would like Nicasio to be around.
Whatever the case may be though, I think it would be wise for the Cardinals to sign him to a two or three-year deal worth $10 million a year. It’s not too pricey for a pitcher who just started relief pitching last year, but it ensures that we have a set-up guy to bridge our late innings.
If the Cardinals are able to sign Nicasio, then they need to sign the best closer available to them at the time. Last night on the podcast, I mentioned to Dan the team has blown thirty-five saves over the last two years. Frankly, that’s just flat-out unacceptable. However, based on the reports we are hearing, the Cardinals seem to be making progress on signing a closer.
Resign Lance Lynn
Based on how everything is going and the comments made by John Mozeliak, I’m already going against the grain here. However, yesterday, there was an interesting article on MLB Trade Rumors suggesting Lance Lynn is looking for a deal somewhere in the four-year/$56 million range. I don’t know how you feel about that, but if that is what it would take to keep Lynn in the St. Louis rotation, then PAY THE MAN.
I understand the need to get the young guys some experience, but I also think the Cardinals would be fools not to take this deal for an experienced started, who arguably was the team’s best pitcher in 2017.
As of now, the rotation looks like this: Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Luke Weaver, and Michael Wacha, and pick your poison of Jack Flaherty or Alex Reyes (assuming his rehab progresses nicely). I’m not upset at that rotation, but that isn’t a rotation that will get you to the playoffs anytime soon.
The problem I think, though, is the initial hint of a four-year/$56 million deal. Personally, I think that is WAY under the mark, especially if the qualifying offer the Cardinals will most likely give Lynn is valued at $17.4 million. I think the annual base price for Lynn will be $17.4 million, so there is no sense on thinking it will only cost $56 million to keep him.
I plan on diving into the numbers in a different piece, but early this summer I projected Lynn to be somewhere in the four-year/$90-100 million mark. As far as I am concerned, I think maybe that is what he actually wants, and perhaps contributed to the comments made by Mozeliak earlier this week about Lynn.
"Mozeliak on Lance Lynn: “I think he’s gonna be a tougher fit for us. But things change, things happen. Not a priority for us at this time.”— Frank Cusumano (@Frank_Cusumano) November 2, 2017Mozeliak on Lance Lynn: “I think he’s gonna be a tougher fit for us. But things change, things happen. Not a priority for us at this time.”— Frank Cusumano (@Frank_Cusumano) November 2, 2017"
If the St. Louis Cardinals can re-sign Lynn to the four-year/$56 million deal being thrown out there, then do it. There shouldn’t even really be a debate about it either. However, if we are talking numbers closer to what I projected, then I definitely understand the apprehension surrounding a deal, especially if you are potentially looking to take on a contract like Stanton’s.
Come up with a solid plan for the lineup and defensive alignment
The St. Louis Cardinals need to approach this off-season with the a differently mentality on lineup construction. While some of it will depend on the impact bat they land, the rest of the order and the respective position each player plays needs to be addressed.
Mozeliak said the only position guaranteed is the one currently occupied by Yadier Molina. Everyone else is stuck in limbo. Kolten Wong probably has the next most secure spot, but the recent talks of Jose Martinez seeing more time at first base means a position change, yet again, for one Matt Carpenter.
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Unless Carpenter is playing third base next season, Wong may have competition at second base once again. Unfortunately, I can see a scenario where Wong is traded to make room for Carpenter on the infield.
I wouldn’t like the move, but if it means brining in Josh Donaldson, then I may look the other way.
My point though is this: the Cardinals need to figure out a stable lineup to produce as many runs they can a game. It’s clear Carpenter is glued to the leadoff spot, so Mike Matheny and co. need to figure out how to work the lineup from there.
As for the defensive alignment, the Cardinals need to put the players in the right spots to succeed. I do not expect Dexter Fowler to be moved from center field next season, so get used to it. As much as you would like to see Tommy Pham in center, it would take quite the change in heart from Fowler to move over to left.
The infield isn’t void of any questions either. We can assume Paul Dejong will return as the shortstop, but what about third, second, and first? Will it be Carpenter or Aledmys Diaz at third next year? Can Jose Martinez be a full-time first baseman? Will Kolten Wong finally just be the guy at second, no questions asked?
Easy to ask everything, but the Cardinals need to find the answer soon.
This one will sound a little cliché, but I don’t care. All I am asking is for everyone to stay healthy over the off-season. Please?
What would you like to see the St. Louis Cardinals do this off-season? Let me know in the comments below.