St. Louis Cardinals: Ticking clocks promise great 2019

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 10: Matt Carpenter
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 10: Matt Carpenter /

The St. Louis Cardinals have plenty of players who will be in the final year of their respective contracts in 2019. This could prove to be a great thing for the club.

While many fans would be concerned with great players sitting in their final year of their contract with a club, I am not one of these. The St. Louis Cardinals have four players who will be playing 2019 in their “walk year.” This, to me, promises great things.

In addition to the four who will be in their contract’s final year, Yadier Molina has 2019 and 2020 left on his contract. While the perennial catcher is aging, I look for these final years to be his greatest as he plans to go out on top.

But what will the St. Louis Cardinals do with the others who are in their final year? I believe they will push them to greatness and will work to build a team around them that will be set to win in 2019– thus taking advantage of a year when these names desire to build worth for free agency.


The St. Louis Cardinals will enter 2019 with Michael Wacha and Miles Mikolas in the last year of their current contracts. Wacha pitched in only 15 games for the Cardinals in 2018 thanks to injury while Mikolas was the Cardinals’ Cy Young pitcher appearing in 32 games.

Wacha needs to rebound in 2019. He needs to be healthy and needs to produce as he did in 2015. The Cardinals need Wacha to find his form and Wacha needs to find his form if he is to find his purse in free agency.

To his credit, Wacha is young. To the team’s credit, they did not force Wacha back from injury when it was apparent that he hadn’t healed sufficiently to contribute to an already-lost season. The additional time off and rehab through the offseason should bode well for Wacha and the Cardinals.

A well-rested and well-healed Michael Wacha will be a welcomed addition to the St. Louis Cardinals rotation or, should the team wish to get creative, as a long-relief guy in the pen. Either way, I predict that this “walk year” will produce a return to previous-years’ Wacha.

Oh, and by the way, Wacha is relatively inexpensive at just $5.3M in 2018. If he would like to see double-digit figures from the Cardinals or others then he will need to dramatically up his game in 2019– a benefit for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mikolas splashed onto many teams’ radars after he departed MLB following the 2014 season to play in Japan. In Japan Mikolas was renewed. After departing in 2014 with a limping 6.44 ERA, the Lizard King returned this season to an impressive 2.83 ERA through 200.2 innings.

This performance alone would garner him great money if he were hitting free agency this season but he isn’t. And that is a good thing for the Cardinals as Mikolas will look to repeat his 2018 performance looking for the large payout.

Mikolas is making $8M in 2019 and I predict that he will repeat his 2018 numbers. This will be great for the Cardinals’ push for postseason and will be great for Mikolas’ push for a long-term, double-digit contract for the years beyond 2019.


The St. Louis Cardinals will enter 2019 with Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna in the last year of their current contracts. Carpenter was a stalwart for the Cardinals in 2018 having appeared 156 of the 163-game season. He appeared at both corner spots of the infield and even splashed at second in 11 games. Ozuna struggled through injury but managed to appear in 148 games.

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Looking first at Ozuna, a shoulder injury spelled a decline in the promise that the St. Louis Cardinals had placed in Ozuna. He was to be their impact bat but the slighted shoulder impacted this outcome. Nevertheless, a respectable triple slash of .280/.325/.433 wasn’t bad.

That said, these numbers won’t garner the big bucks in free agency. To that tune then, look for Marcell to rebound in 2019 putting up numbers similar to his final year in Miami wherein he had a number of suitors including the Cardinals. I look for Ozuna’s offense to increase greatly this season.

Carpenter was as good as gold in August but had roller coaster months otherwise. Had the 2019 season ended at the conclusion of August 2018, I would easily predict that Carp would be looking at impressive numbers entering his bank account.

So what does that mean for 2019, then? Carpenter will be looking for ways to push his name even higher on the MVP lists in 2019 if he wants the big bucks. And I’m pretty sure he does. As long as Shildt doesn’t monkey with the lineup as Mike Matheny did between Carpenter and Dexter Fowler then I look for Carpenter to explode in 2019.


Yes, I am a homer and yes I do believe that great things are coming in 2019. Could I be wrong about the names above, sure. But that doesn’t mean that – all things being equal – I am incorrect about the motivation for each player.

Money is a strong motivator and each of these four will be looking for be motivated. The question will then remain in whether they can produce to achieve the motivation and/or if the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in building around them so they can remain motivated.

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