St. Louis Cardinals: Continuing to clear the outfield logjam
Despite recent trades and losses in free agency, the St. Louis Cardinals still have a bevy of outfielders on the 40-man roster and more on the way. It is time to finish clearing the logjam at the major league level.
Earlier in the offseason, I wrote a piece on why each outfielder deserves to crack the 2020 St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day lineup. In that article, I discussed eight separate outfielders, two of whom have since been traded, and one being Tommy Edman.
With the departure of Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena, the outfield ranks thinned out, albeit marginally. There are still seven outfielders listed on the 40-man roster, and that doesn’t include top prospect Dylan Carlson nor super utility-man Tommy Edman.
With incumbents Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler looking like locks in center and left field, respectively, this leaves seven players vying for one every-day job. Whether or not those two deserve those jobs is another discussion, and belongs in another article.
Tyler O’Neill has absolutely nothing left to prove in AAA, where he is a man among boys. Justin Williams (part of the Tommy Pham trade) is just now proving his relevance and will crack the bigs in 2020. Lane Thomas has done nothing but produce in his limited looks. Newcomer Austin Dean has potential plus power.
All of those guys can contribute to the outfield, but it seems silly to have this many players covering three outfield spots when other areas of the team could be improved. The back end of the bullpen is looking rather thin, for example.
The point is this: though we have had a productive offseason, there is still plenty of roster shaping to occur. The shape of this team right now, we will compete for the division title. Some improvement in offensive production or bullpen pitching, we become favorites for the division title.
Who could these guys be traded for, you might ask? Well, there’s a certain Rocky that everyone has been talking about lately. While he would be a fantastic fit (my personal favorite) and make us World Series contenders, there are other ways to improve the team.
In terms of buy-low candidates, the Rockies also have plenty of previously successful bullpen pieces that are now overpaid and underperforming. Wade Davis, Brian Shaw, and Jake McGee all imploded once they reached Coors field. These would be interesting pickups to potentially shore up the high leverage side of the bullpen. Perhaps one of these guys could be included in a Nolan Arenado trade to help settle salary negotiations.
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Another direction we could go to is a left-handed bat. Corey Dickerson just signed with the Marlins, but nobody on that roster is untouchable. He’s got offensive upside and is a plus defender. Did I mention that he hits left-handed? He would slot in fifth in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup, behind Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong.
Eric Hosmer may well be able to revive his former offensive prowess away from Petco Park and its tendency to eat home runs. Another Padres bat that holds intrigue for me is Wil Myers. Finding a place for either of these two to play presents an entirely different challenge, but that is for another article. This is about ways to improve the team by shedding outfielders.
This team could even see improvement in the starting rotation. Robbie Ray is a free-agent to be on a team that needs help all over the diamond. He would allow us to send a high-strikeout guy like Carlos Martinez elsewhere in a big trade. Ray’s numbers would also improve leaving an offense-laden park like Chase Field.
Long story short, there are many ways to improve this team. The Cardinals have the means to do it. There is very little reason to sit on so much outfield depth when we are severely lacking that same depth in other areas. Who is the next man up for the rotation or bullpen? We don’t have any talented high-level pitching prospects.
These are the guys who come up in the middle of the year and relieve a tired pitching staff. We simply don’t have that depth. Who is our backup shortstop? Yairo Munoz? That didn’t go well last year, while also contributing to DeJong looking DeGassed by the end of the year. Tommy Edman helps this situation immensely, but he’s only one guy.
The point is this: the St. Louis Cardinals need to make moves to get better. Repeating the same experiment expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. The moves are out there, and the resources to make them are already in St. Louis. Your move, Captain Bowtie.