The St. Louis Cardinals are likely done with any large acquisitions, but the door is still open for a reunion.
If there is one thing the St. Louis Cardinals love, it’s utility infielders. Over the years many have filled the role, but the most recent have been Jedd Gyorko and Brad Miller.
This winter, the Cardinals have made their big move by landing Nolan Arenado. By trading Dexter Fowler and re-signing both Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, they are clear-cut favorites to take the NL Central.
Before the most recent round of moves, the team had signed middle infielders Jose Rondon and Max Moroff to minor league deals for depth. Both have made their MLB debuts, but neither sits as very intriguing options to fill a utility role.
At the moment, the middle infield depth chart is lead by Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman, with Edmundo Sosa and then maybe Matt Carpenter right after him. That is it on the 40-man and beyond that, it is solely Rondon and Moroff as options before dipping into the AAA roster.
Rumors are still swirling around potentially adding another starter, but that utility spot looks like something worth looking at more. Last year, the Cardinals signed Brad Miller on February 12 just before spring training for just $2M. While he was brought in to augment the role that Yairo Munoz was supposed to fill, Munoz left the team less than a month later.
Miller went on to bat better than anyone expected including serving as the team’s cleanup batter for a part of the shortened season. He was one of the team’s only above-average hitters with a 121 wRC+ and he tied the team lead with six homers. Right now, he’s still on the market. If I were the Cardinals, I would be knocking on his door.
The other name that is intriguing among the remaining free agent middle infielders is another former Cardinal in Jedd Gyorko. From 2016 to the middle of 2019, Gyorko was a beloved member of the Cardinals who provided a very similar batting profile as Miller, just from the right-hand side.
Gyorko averaged right around 125 games a year for the Cardinals and could play anywhere in the infield. After being traded to the Dodgers in 2019, Gyorko signed with the Brewers for the 2020 season. On a struggling Brewers team, he was a force in the middle of their lineup over the 60 games.
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He hit .248/.333/.504 with nine homers in just 42 games in 2020, good for a 119 wRC+. While Gyorko showed more power than Miller in 2020, both samples reflect the similarities in the types of players both are. Both are streaky hitters with solid pop who can play anywhere in the infield, even if they shouldn’t be trusted for long at shortstop.
Last weekend on KMOX, John Mozeliak said that he didn’t believe there would be much left happening at the major league level, but some depth signings on the minor league side may be possible. So, what that comes down to with Miller and Gyorko is whether or not they would accept a minor league deal.
Both players’ performance at the MLB from last year would normally dictate a no on that front, but spring training starts next week. Players may be more open to different options (especially familiar ones) as the clock runs out before the start of spring training.
It’s impossible to decipher what Mo means all the time, but the point of it is that right now if either Paul DeJong or Tommy Edman suffer a long-term injury, the Cardinals are in a tough spot. Sosa, Rondon, and Moroff might end up being good options, but bringing in a more proven name to the competition this spring would be smart. Why not go back to familiar faces.