St. Louis Cardinals: Sluggish offseason, a cause and effect expose

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. attends the 2017 Hank Aaron Award press conference prior to game two of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. attends the 2017 Hank Aaron Award press conference prior to game two of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 15: Marcell Ozuna /

The extremely sluggish free agent market this offseason has had an impact on virtually all teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals.

Larry:  Dan, great points all around.  I hope I was clear that I don’t have much issue with the valuation of either Gregerson or Mikolas.

That’s not really the question, though; it’s whether they were necessary or even desirable additions BEFORE the team determined if a high-level closer, starter or utility player was available. And whether the expenditures on those guys would cut into the budget for true game changers.

There are two ways to look at this. Some would say, if you find a value-add in an area of the team that needs refinement, take it, it won’t hurt you, and could help you immensely over the course of a tough and potentially injury-laden season. Fair point of view, no doubt.

But that analysis suggests either that (1) the early and marginal acquisitions don’t impact your budget to buy in on the top-level guys, or (2) that you have no intent to buy in on the top-level guys, budget aside.

I think we’ve established that the Cards have the wherewithal to play in the higher range of the free-agent sandbox even with their acquisitions to date. Whether they have the desire to do so remains the huge question.

Closing remarks

Many analysts have refused to assume that the St. Louis Cardinals are in their Opening Day configuration, no matter what Mo or DeWitt say.

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That’s likely because the team has, in the DeWitt Era, played things extremely close to the vest, and sometimes seem to be less interested in deals or signings the more their intentions become known. Having witnessed lots of Cardinal seasons and deals, I’m willing to suspend judgment til we get to the start of the race, but not really beyond.

As for the MLBPA, that’s a lingering question that could hurt baseball for several years if an early fix isn’t found. Resentment among players will build, both those quality guys whose big paydays are rounding down, and more importantly the guys for whom a union really means the most, i.e., the ones who are straddling the major-minor fence. A few years being left on the sidelines will impact the remainder of their lives.

So there we have it, the impact of this painfully, terribly, awfully, despicably, historically slow Hot Stove League season on MLB at large and the St. Louis Cardinals in particular. As always, Dan, thanks for your precision, wit, analysis and (gulp) patience. May the Spring Be With You!

Next: Will Milwaukee's moves force the Cardinals to action?

Dan:  Larry, it has been a true pleasure once again.  And, hey, only a couple weeks until pitchers and catchers report!

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