St. Louis Cardinals Rumors: Post-Goldschmidt shopping list has no Harper

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of game two of a doubleheader at Nationals Park on September 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of game two of a doubleheader at Nationals Park on September 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

St. Louis Cardinals beat reporter Derrick Goold revealed the Cardinals priorities post Paul Goldschmidt, and one name in particular is noticeably missing.

St. Louis Cardinals fans are certainly elated about adding the best first baseman the team has had since Albert Pujols, but also know that team isn’t where it needs to be just yet. While this team certainly has the potential to make the playoffs as it is now, that can’t be the only goal. At the end of the day, you play to win the World Series, nothing less.

After three consecutive years of watching postseason baseball from their couches, St. Louis Cardinals management knows that fact just as much as we do, or so they say. While they do understand that more work needs to be done, they might not thinking quite as big as fans want them to be.

Derrick Goold’s report about the Cardinals post-Paul Goldschmidt priorities included three primary roles the Cardinals want to fill. Let me reiterate, not names, but roles.

So…since when did Bryce Harper become a left-handed utility bat, am I right? All jokes aside, the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t showing any signs that they are particularly invested in signing Harper, and my only hope is that conviction is far different behind closed doors.

But these are still things that the St. Louis Cardinals need, I would just rather them be with Bryce Harper and not instead of Bryce Harper. The Cardinals have absolutely no excuse not to go after Harper because the payroll is still well within reason to sign all of these needs.

The Goldschmidt deal brings in $14.5M dollars in cap hit this season. It seems like a decent amount one the surface, but when you factor in the fact that the difference between Wainwright’s 2018 and 2019 salaries is $17.5M, and Greg Holland‘s salary, which comes off the books in 2019, is just $500K below Goldschmidt’s salary, the Cardinals still have a significantly lower payroll than last season.

Would acquiring one of the top lefty closer free agents in Andrew Miller or Zach Britton and giving $35M a year to Bryce Harper change that? Probably, but it still wouldn’t get the team above the luxury tax, or even give them the distinction of having the highest payroll in 2019. However, Bill DeWitt and the St. Louis Cardinals are notoriously…frugal, so who knows if they are willing to approach the $200M payroll mark.

That won’t make fans any less adamant that they should. While the acquisition of Goldschmidt certainly calmed things down, some fans are still discontent, and believe the Cardinals need to do more. In my eyes, they’re right.

A Daniel Descalso or Francisco Pena isn’t that move that is going to get us to the top, nor is it a move that should impede with the signing of bigger names. Picking up an elite left-handed reliever is definitely more on the right track, but once again, it is a move that shouldn’t impede signing Harper. If it is, it’s overpaying.

With Goldschmidt’s contract, the estimated arbitration values of Michael Wacha and Marcell Ozuna, and the predicted cost to fill the remainder of the 25-man roster puts the St. Louis Cardinals 2019 payroll at approximately $150M. Cardinals fans aren’t expecting the team to exceed the $200M threshold, but seeing the Cubs spend close to that amount makes the payroll last year feel insufficient to fans.

The $14M wasted on Holland makes that number feel much worse than it actually is, but it is still well within reason to assume that the Cardinals can go a bit higher to at least close in on the payroll of the Cubs. To many fans, it would feel insulting to let the Cubs out work the Cardinals in team building, and that’s exactly what has happened over the past several years.

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It hasn’t always worked out in their favor, but Cardinals fans have seen the Cubs make big move after big move, and now the opportunity for a franchise changing move has presented itself. Missing out on this opportunity seems like it would be something the Cardinals would regret, and while filling the needs they have outlined is not a bad idea, neither is signing Bryce Harper along with it.

There is a chance that the team is simply keeping their interest in Harper a secret to remain as discreet as possible, and it’s something I wouldn’t put past Cardinals management. It’s all I can hope for at this point.

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The Cardinals have needs for players to fill the roles they have on their shopping list, but they aren’t nearly as big as the elephant in the room. The team shouldn’t try so hard to get a left-handed reliever as much as they should focus on getting good ones. Cheaper prices than the ones Miller and Britton will command would be nice too, so that the Bryce Harper situation can be more comfortably addressed.