Step Three: Free Agents and Trades
Now, here is the part everybody has been waiting for. Who will the Cardinals acquire over the offseason? Before we spitball any names, let’s take a look at the biggest needs on the Cardinals roster and go from there.
Our biggest priority going into the offseason should be finding a new everyday third baseman. Matt Carpenter clearly isn’t the guy anymore and isn’t showing any positive signs that he will be ever again. Tommy Edman would be a pretty solid option if the Cardinals want to continue being mediocre, but why not go big or go home at third base.
The Cardinals have a problem in the outfield, they do have a glut of players. However, I wouldn’t expect them to roll away from a Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, and Dexter Fowler trio next season with Lane Thomas or Tyler O’Neill as the fourth outfielder.
The Cardinals will be bringing back their entire bullpen next season, and that is now confirmed with Andrew Miller triggering his vesting option for the 2021 season on Sunday. I wouldn’t expect the Cardinals to make any significant upgrades here either, especially since their rocket-armed closer in Jordan Hicks will be returning.
Up next is the rotation. Four spots in the Cardinals rotation already seem set for next season with Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson (if healthy), Adam Wainwright, and the return of Miles Mikolas. This leaves room for one more spot.
Kwang-Hyun Kim has done a phenomenal job in the rotation this season, as he currently holds a 1.36 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP with one more start to go. Kim isn’t a big strikeout guy, but he does generate weak contact with one of the lowest hard-hit percentages in baseball. He is more than deserving of that fifth spot and should be able to win it with a solid spring.
As stated, the Cardinals need a massive upgrade at the hot corner, and with top prospect Nolan Gorman not being ready for a couple of years, the Cardinals could use him as a trade piece to acquire a superstar at the position and make the Cardinals a force in the NL.
Paul Goldschmidt has quietly had a very solid 2020 campaign and is starting to regain his old form slightly, but his job could become way easier with another stud in the lineup. With the Colorado Rockies looking to potentially trade arguably baseball’s best third baseman in Nolan Arenado, this couldn’t be a more perfect match for St. Louis.
Last offseason, the Cardinals did have some trade talks with the Colorado Rockies and got very close before COVID-19 got in the way. Chances are, those talks will continue to heat back up come winter. Undoubtedly, it will take No. 2 prospect Nolan Gorman, a third baseman who oozes raw power, to satisfy the Rockies, but it will probably take more than that as well.
Tyler O’Neill has been buried in the Cardinals farm system despite being a former Top-100 prospect. The Cardinals could help unload some of that glut in the outfield by including O’Neill in the trade. O’Neill is also a power-first hitter, which would be super beneficial for the Rockies in high-altitude Coors FIeld; where the balls obviously fly. The only question is how the money will work with Arenado’s big contract.
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With the Cardinals acquiring a new superstar in the lineup and making their offense officially a force to be reckoned with. They will still need some depth though.
With this season’s free-agent market being weak for hitters, the Cardinals could end up bringing back utility man Brad Miller on a short term deal if he doesn’t find a home over the offseason. If he does, an option could be reuniting former utility man Jedd Gyorko, who is having a solid season for the division rival Milwaukee Brewers.
If the Cardinals can make a splash at the hot corner for Arenado and provide some more depth offensively, this team will be dangerous. A perfect combination of pitching, hitting, speed, and fielding will make them very hard to beat, especially in a seven-game series. If I were John Mozeliak, I would do exactly this; and make the Cardinals an elite team instead of swimming in mediocrity.
This offseason is very important in determining the identity of the Cardinals organization. Will they finally have the stones to go all in or will they continue to ride on the coattails of their past? Hopefully, they finally realize that the baseball we have been witnessing for the past few years isn’t good enough, and we make a big splash that will get us over the hump.