St. Louis Cardinals: Yairo Munoz, a super-sub, trade bait or the future 3rd baseman for Cards?

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 29: Yairo Munoz #34 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning at Busch Stadium on August 29, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 29: Yairo Munoz #34 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning at Busch Stadium on August 29, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Rookie Yairo Munoz has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all the outfield positions.  This versatility would make him valuable trade bait in the off-season.  But should the St. Louis Cardinals keep him as their ‘super-sub’ or as the future third baseman?

Yairo Munoz has played the role of ‘super-sub’ this season at every position except first base, catcher, and pitcher.  His bat has also been valuable to the St. Louis Cardinals with a slash line of .277/.344/.762 with 8 HR and 39 RBI in 282 AB.  However, for these reasons, he would likely make a valuable trade piece in the off-season.

The question becomes for the Cardinals, should they keep Munoz as their resident super-sub or should they trade him to address needs elsewhere in the roster?  Or… should they make him an everyday player at third base?

The Cardinals will address these questions in the upcoming offseason to determine the future of the 23-year-old rookie right-handed bat.

The ‘Jose Oquendo-style-supersub’

Okay, Yairo Munoz is not quite as versatile as Jose Oquendo.  After all he hasn’t pitched, caught, or played first base.  Manager Mike Shildt hasn’t ruled out first base, but doesn’t see him playing all nine spots according to a recent article by Rick Hummel in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Nevertheless, the Cardinals haven’t shown any reservations playing Munoz at second, short, third, or any of the outfield positions.  Munoz told Hummel he has more confidence in playing short or third vs second base and enjoys playing center field more than the corner outfield spots.

The former Oakland Athletic farm hand has logged more innings at shortstop (305) than any other position. At second he has logged 180 innings, at third 90 innings, and 94 innings in the outfield, with right field (55) being where his has the most experience.

However, his defensive metrics are at best a mixed bag.  Even though Munoz has told Hummel shortstop was one of the positions he has the most confidence, his metrics tell a different story. In  2018,  he has 8 errors in 130  chances, while his Rtot/yr is -15 and his Rdrs/yr is -24.  Comparatively, Paul DeJong has only 11 errors in 440 chances at short in 2018.   DeJong’s 2018 Rtot is 4 and his Rdrs/yr is 17.

Munoz’s defensive metrics at second base and center field are not any better.  At second he has 4 errors in 102 chances with a Rtot/yr of -7 and a Rdrs/yr of -33.  In center field he has 2 errors in 7 chances and a Rtot/yr of -90 and a Rdrs/yr of -57.

With defensive metrics like this, one question for the St. Louis Cardinals addressing Yairo Munoz’s future, should they use him primarily at one position and leave him alone.

A future third baseman for the Cards?

Third base per defensive metrics is Munoz’s strongest position.  He has played 90 innings at third and with 3 errors in 30 chances.  His Rtot/yr at third is 12, while his Rdrs/yr is 14.

Admittedly, these numbers may not show a complete picture since he has logged many more innings at short and second.  But with his arm strength, third base could be a position he could excel with more experience. The numbers at short and second likely reflects Munoz’s range issues, that won’t be as big of issue at third base.

If Munoz continues to develop his offensive skills, he could turn into the power bat the Cards need at third base.  I could see Munoz eventually hitting a better rate than his current slash line of .277/.346/.418 and more home runs as an everyday player.

The Cardinals other options at third are limited.  But there is one who needs to be thrown into this discussion. Let’s look at him.

Well, what about Jedd?

Jedd Gyorko currently gets the most innings at third base for the Cardinals.  However, a close look at his defensive metrics at third are not better than Munoz’s.  But to be fair with Gyorko, he has a larger sample size than Munoz.  He has a Rtot/yr of 2 and a Rdrs/yr of 11 at third with 8 errors in 168 chances.

Offensively, Gyorko has a slash line of .267/.350/.424 with 11 HR and 47 RBI in 344 AB.  Gyorko’s and Munoz’s stats are similar, although Gyorko has a larger sample size.  Though, a closer look at the 30-year-old Gyorko, his WAR and RAR are superior to Munoz’s  Gyorko has a WAR of 2.1 vs Munoz’s .2 and his RAR is 23 vs Munoz’s 4.

Jedd Gyorko is currently signed through 2019 on a 5-year, $35 million deal and the Cardinals have a team option in 2020.  The Cardinals have never been committed to using Gyorko as their everyday third baseman.  That would seem to open the door for other options after this year.  Maybe one option is Yairo Munoz.

Munoz could be trade bait

More from Redbird Rants

Finding a third baseman through trade or free agency has long been rumored.  In the most recent offseason, Bob Nightengale of USA Today, claimed that Toronto Blue Jay third baseman was a Cardinal target.  During the recent non-waiver trade deadline, it was rumored Mike Mustakas of the Kansas City Royals and Manny Mochado of the Baltimore Orioles were pursued by the Cardinals.

If the St. Louis Cardinals continue to look for a third base option outside the organization, Yairo Munoz could become trade bait during the upcoming off-season.  He would likely make an attractive player for other teams with his defensive versatility and offensive skills.

The Cardinals will have issues to address during the upcoming off-season.  With the uncertainty of the long-term health of Michael Wacha and Alex Reyes, the Cardinals may want to pursue a starter through the trade market.  The bullpen will obviously have to be addressed.  Will the Cardinals address it internally or through a trade?

Munoz could be attractive trade bait during the offseason.  He could be put together in a package deal to help address some of the above issues.

Conclusions

My personal belief is Yairo Munoz should be allowed to find on-field position in either this organization or another.  The super-utility role he has played is not suited for his strengths and exposes his weaknesses.  Munoz has some range issues that don’t play well at second base or shortstop.

Nevertheless, his strong arm and limited range is more suited for third base.  With additional work by Jose Oquendo in the off-season, Munoz could reduce his errors and be a strong defensive player at third.  I also believe he could develop into a power-RBI-bat the Cardinals need at third.

But if the Cardinals decide to pursue third base through trade or the FA market, then Munoz should be traded to address other needs.  I believe he would make valuable trade bait.

Next. Where are the top prospects of 2014?. dark

These are my thoughts on Yario Munoz. What’s yours?  Feel free to comment and …as always…Go Cards.