MLB Expert Winter Meetings Sim: The St. Louis Cardinals trade Bader
By Matt Graves
As the annual FanSided MLB experts Winter Meetings sim continues, the St. Louis Cardinals have made a second trade and this time it’s in the outfield.
Let me first say that being the GM of the St. Louis Cardinals is not an easy job. Given the limitations of both the self-set salary cap as well as the longterm contracts the team has already committed to, there hasn’t been too much that I have been able to do during the yearly MLB Experts Winter Meetings simulation.
I did make one splash trading Paul DeJong, Jose Martinez, and Daniel Ponce de Leone for Fransisco Lindor, but I haven’t been able to do anything thus far in free agency.
There has been one more official move though.
On Friday morning, the Cardinals traded Harrison Bader to the Padres for Hunter Renfroe. Again, this is a FAKE TRADE done by BLOGGERS WHO THINK THEY HAVE IMPORTANT OPINIONS. But it still had to be negotiated and this whole exercise is pretty fun.
Either way, I think it’s a trade without a downside.
Harrison Bader really had a terrible sophomore year, but the things that ailed him were the things that ailed him throughout the minor leagues. He struggled against anything offspeed and it led to him batting just .205 on the year with a .680 OPS. If he can be right around an MLB average hitter, his Gold-Glove-caliber defense makes up for that. When he’s that bad offensively, he is nothing more than a defensive replacement.
Some may think I am giving up on the 25-year-old too early, but this is my game and I’m in charge. Also, you haven’t seen who we are getting back instead.
Renfroe may have batted just .216 in 2019, but he hit 33 homers and was right above league-average with a 102 OPS+. The 27-year-old has always been right below an .800 OPS for his career and he hasn’t hit under 26 homers in a year where he’s been a starter.
Renfroe is a big boy at 6-1 and 220 lbs but is surprisingly good in the outfield. In 2019 he played mostly the corner outfield spots and had a combined 22 DRS in 998 innings. Not a free agent until 2024, Renfroe has a lot of room to grow.
Renfroe may never walk much or be a high average batter, but he mashes baseballs and for a team that is probably losing Marcell Ozuna, Renfroe would make a fine left fielder.
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He may not be quite at the level Bader is in center, but his defense is certainly well above average. In Bader’s absence, the Cardinals could do multiple different things. They could keep Dexter Fowler in right and play a mix of Randy Arozarena/Lane Thomas/Dylan Carlson in center, or they could put Fowler in center and play Edman in right, mixing in those three outfielders anywhere they can.
Renfroe might strike out too much to be a cleanup batter, but moving to Busch Stadium from PetCo park may up his homer numbers even more and I could see him batting in that fifth spot.
I am not sure whether or not any more moves will be done, but as for now, a simulated batting lineup could look like this (their 2019 OPS is in parenthesis):
- Kolten Wong, 2B (.784)
- Tommy Edman, RF (.850)
- Fransisco Lindor, SS (.854)
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (.821)
- Hunter Renfroe, LF (.778)
- Matt Carpenter, 3B (.726)
- Yadier Molina, C (.711)
- Dexter Fowler, CF (.754)
There are obviously a lot of combos that could work, but off the bat, this looks pretty good. Renfroe could blossom hitting behind Goldy and Lindor and the main thing is I don’t think this lineup would miss Marcell Ozuna at all.
I am going to still explore options until the simulation finishes, but if this is all I am able to accomplish, I don’t think I did a bad job. You may disagree, but you also didn’t have to deal with the other owners overvaluing their own players just like we do. In all, We added an MVP candidate to replace Ozuna’s spot in the lineup and added a very similar batter to DeJong to replace Ozuna’s spot in the outfield.