While there have been a great number of names mentioned that the St. Louis Cardinals should bring in, one name that many fans see on the way out is Jedd Gyorko. However, there’s one man and his glove, or lack thereof, that is getting in the way.
Despite Jedd Gyorko still being on the roster, most fans consider third base to be the biggest need for the St. Louis Cardinals outside of the bullpen. Gyorko has certainly been a serviceable player in his three years in the Cardinal red, but fans want more than just serviceable.
On top of that, many people believe that the $13M that Gyorko is owed next year is just too much for a player who is simply serviceable, but the St. Louis Cardinals roster would currently have a glaring hole as it is now.
With Greg Garcia gone, Gyroko is the closest thing that the St. Louis Cardinals have to a utility backup. I know that you’re all thinking of another name with the potential to fill this role, but it is his futility in the field that makes it difficult for me to unload Gyorko.
Yairo Munoz is supposed to be the guy that can fill that role, but he didn’t show it in the field. While he was serviceable at third base with a 1 DRS in 95.2 innings, his 3 errors during that time worries me. A 31.73 innings per error rate is way too high for my taste.
To compare, during Paul DeJong‘s much maligned rookie season, he committed 9 errors in 747.1 innings, meaning he only committed an error every 83.01 innings. While his 0 DRS brings his line closer to Munoz, other metrics show just how poorly Munoz played defensively this year.
Of the 19 plays that were inside of Munoz expected fielding zone, 13 of them were completed for a 68,4% completion rate. DeJong’s rate in his rookie season was miles ahead despite the increased volume, sitting at 80.5%.
Munoz did make 6 plays outside of his expected zone, which is a good amount in such a short amount of time and does demonstrate the potential to be a good fielder, but I haven’t seen it yet. Sure, his time at third base is a very small sample size, but that’s because the other positions that he played at were far, far worse.
He posted a -6 DRS at both short and second base, which is basically Jose Martinez levels. I’m sure we all know how much St. Louis Cardinals fans, myself included, dislike Jose Martinez’s defense, so just know that Munoz was around or worse than Martinez playing second or third.
Gyorko hasn’t been the greatest fielder off of third base, but his -1 DRS at second and 0 DRS at shortstop has proved that he is at least serviceable. His conversion rates and other metrics aren’t great either, but they are demonstrative of someone who is at least acceptable as a backup.
Now paying $13M for a backup is not the greatest thing in the world, but it something that the St. Louis Cardinals might need to consider if Munoz does not show improvements.
I mean this both offensively and defensively. The ability to play multiple positions wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue if Munoz became good enough offensively to produce relatively consistently. He has shown flashes of the ability with a .276/.350./.413 slash line over 329 plate appearances, but he either needs to show more or improve his defense to really stick.
It’s a shame because Gyorko’s contract is at an excellent point for trading, especially considering most St. Louis Cardinals fans have essentially written Gyorko out of any future plans. Despite the price, Gyorko has one year and a club option left on his deal. This represents the best possible structure for any contract being sold as trade value; it’s an expiring contract, but only if you want it to be.
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The important thing that I am sure that everyone will rail into me for not mentioning is that Munoz is still much younger than Gyorko, and thus has a lot of room to improve. I get that as a rookie, there’s a certain amount of leeway that should be allowed to players. However, the sheer ineptitude that I saw from Munoz on the field did not show he was ready to field at the major league level, even as a rookie.
I also understand that Kolten Wong‘s numbers were quite bad defensively starting out, so it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Munoz can quickly improve on both sides of the ball, and possibly even learn to play another infield position. If the St. Louis Cardinals have seen this kind of development, trading Gyorko actually becomes the ideal situation
But until those improvements happen, or until stud third baseman Nolan Gorman carves his way through Peoria, Springfield, and Memphis, Munoz’s problems as a defender are a large obstacle in the way of the St. Louis Cardinals dealing Gyorko.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the best case scenario at this point is for Munoz to improve and Gyorko to be traded. However, I just can’t see Munoz personally make the fielding or hitting renaissance that is needed for him to assume either the third base role that Gyorko has now or the utility role fans are hoping that he would be assuming if he were on the team next season.