St. Louis Cardinals: Plans for Jedd Gyorko in 2018 and beyond

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 22: Mike Matheny
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 22: Mike Matheny /

The St. Louis Cardinals are exploring a lot of options to upgrade the club. Trades and free-agent signings could give the team a brand new look heading into 2018. But, where does Jedd Gyorko fit into those plans?

It is no secret the St. Louis Cardinals are actively and aggressively looking to enhance the lineup. Trading for Giancarlo Stanton is priority number one. But, there have been reports, or at least rumors, of many other potential moves, including a trade for a different Marlins outfielder, sign free-agent Eric Hosmer, or trade for Josh Donaldson. Other moves have been mentioned too.

And, as Derrick Goold writes, the Cardinals have told Matt Carpenter to prepare for a “super-utility everyday role.” This will likely depend on who is added to the team.

So, where does all of this leave Jedd Gyorko, the man who hit fifty home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past two seasons?

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If the St. Louis Cardinals trade for Stanton or another outfielder and do not make any other moves, Gyorko’s role probably doesn’t change much, if any. He would likely play third base most days (or at least I hope).

If the Cardinals go get a first baseman, that would seemingly move Carpenter into that “super-utility” role. I would imagine  Carp would get starts at first, second, third, and maybe even at both corner outfield spots.

Jose Martinez could get more playing time too. He is focusing on improving defensively at first base during winter ball. If he continues to hit, he needs to play somewhere. This is another scenario that could move Matt Carpenter into that super-utility man.

So, if Carp is moving around everyday and/or Jose Martinez is playing more often, whose at-bats are being taken away? Gyorko, Kolten Wong, and Paul DeJong could all potentially get fewer plate appearances (if Carp is producing offensively).

I’m not sure I like that. Jedd Gyorko has earned the right to play third base everyday for the St. Louis Cardinals. We also have him for at least two more seasons with a $13 million option for 2020 – an option that could prove to be incredibly cheap if he continues to produce. So, either let him play everyday or include him in a trade package.

Like I mentioned above, Gyorko has hit 50 home runs in the past two seasons, which leads the team over that span. He’s had an OPS over .800 both years. And, in 2017 he was second in all of baseball in defensive runs saved at third base, trailing only Nolan Arenado. Gyorko saved 16 runs to Arenado’s 20 while playing more than 400 less innings than the Colorado third baseman.

He’s gotten roughly 400 at-bats in each of the past two seasons: partly because he has had a few injuries and partly because Mike Matheny does not play him everyday. What could his numbers look like if he were to play 140-150 games and get about 550 at-bats?

Well, Depth Charts projects him to hit .253 with 27 home runs and 84 RBI in 145 games in 2018. If he combines numbers similar to those with the defense he played in 2017, he would be an extremely valuable player for the Cardinals in 2018.

Not only has he proven that he hits for power and can play an outstanding third base, but he also can play every other infield position. He is no Ozzie Smith at shortstop, but he can play there if an injury were to occur. We all know he can play second base too – the position he has played the most in his career.

And, he has started 11 games at first base for the Cardinals over the past two seasons – not many, but he is capable of doing it.

His OPS+ of 111 in 2016 and 112 in 2017 prove that he is an above average hitter. He was a well-above average defensive third baseman in 2017. Plus he has the capability of playing all infield positions. It seems like we have an extremely valuable player here.

Next: Faux Winter Meetings

Again, most of these potential moves hinge on one man – Giancarlo Stanton. Trading for him or failing to trade for him will bring a lot more clarity to the moves the St. Louis Cardinals need to make and where each player fits. Thanks for reading.