In part two of a look at potential players for the St. Louis Cardinals to target who are in the playoffs, we turn our attention to the teams in the NLCS.
The St. Louis Cardinals should spend a great deal of time this offseason attacking free agents. Both the Dodgers and Brewers have a slew of to-be free agents. To be specific, the Dodgers have 12 players who will hit free agency and the Brewers have 10 players who will be free agents.
To help us examine these players, let me group them via position.
Free agent starting pitchers
The Milwaukee Brewers will witness Gio Gonzalez hitting the free agent market following their departure from the 2018 postseason. Gonzalez came to the Brewers on August 31, 2018 just in time to be included on the postseason rosters.
Gonzalez had watched his pitching numbers rise in his final years with Washington which lead the Nationals to send Gonzales packing. That said, Gio has seen a resurgence of sorts in Milwaukee. Since joining Milwaukee, the left-handed hurler has recorded a 2.13 ERA through five games at the end of the season.
Listen, I really want to see the St. Louis Cardinals make a push to sign Gonzalez this offseason. I think he can be had if the Brewers don’t bring him back. That, I believe, will be the one thing standing in the way of a Cards-Gonzalez marriage and is one that will likely keep Gio out of St. Louis.
The Dodgers will have Hyun-Jin Ryu hitting the free agent market after the postseason of 2018. Like Gonazales before him, Ryu would be a great addition to the St. Louis Cardinals and I would love to see them make a push for him.
That said, Ryu’s five years of service have all been with the Dodgers and I think it will be unlikely that he finds a new home. Regardless, a left-handed pitcher who made $7.833M in 2018 should make him affordable and not just to the Cardinals.
Free agent relief pitchers
The Dodgers have eight relief pitchers hitting free agency this offseason. Of them only Ryan Madson should interest the St. Louis Cardinals.
Madson was likely on the Cardinals’ radar already and should be as he was a powerful arm at the back of the Washington bullpen before he was sent to the Dodgers on August 31, 2018. Madson made just shy of $8M in 2018 and will likely garner $10M in free agency.
The St. Louis Cardinals need to bid on Madson. Period.
On the other side of the coin, Milwaukee has only three relief pitchers hitting the free agent market. Of these, none of them should interest the St. Louis Cardinals. The relief pitchers from the Brewers are nearing baseball-retirement ages of mid-to-upper 30s. Pass.
Free agent fielders
Let me warn the St. Louis Cardinals to take care when/if dipping toes in the fielding free agents from the Brewers as the youngest of these is Eric Sogard at 33. In other words: pass, pass, pass.
On the Dodgers side of things, however, the St. Louis Cardinals should bid on all of the free agent names. These include Manny Machado, Yasmani Grandal (albeit he will not likely want to take backup role), and Brian Dozier.
Machado is likely going to return to LA, Grandal is likely going to as well and with more money, leaving Dozier to be had. I think the St. Louis Cardinals should pass on Dozier if they intend on keeping Gyroko.
Here’s a comparison of Dozier to Gyorko at the plate. Gyorko’s slash line from 2018: .262/.346/.416. Dozier’s slash line from 2018: .215/.305/.391. And just for giggles, these are Kolton Wong’s numbers: .249/.332/.388. In other words, pass on Dozier.