St. Louis Cardinals News: Matt Szczur signed for outfield depth
By Matt Graves
The St. Louis Cardinals have been scouring the remaining players looking for players to add. Now, they have signed Matt Szczur to a minor-league deal.
Coming into 2021, the St. Louis Cardinals have one of the youngest starting outfields they have had in years if the roster doesn’t change.
The projected outfield of Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, and Tyler O’Neill are all younger than 27 and none of the three can provide guaranteed production. Behind these starting three, the group of Justin Williams, Austin Dean, and Lane Thomas all are lesser options.
Because of this youth, the Cardinals have been looking at adding a veteran option through free agency. On Saturday, that is exactly what they did.
As Jim Salisbury of NBCS reports, the Cardinals have signed former Cub to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. At this time of the year, this type of deal makes a lot of sense as a no-risk depth move.
Szczur debuted with the Cubs back in 2014 and served as a bench bat with them for parts of four-plus seasons. In the middle of the 2017 season, he was traded to the Padres where he played for the rest of 2017 and 2018.
Szczur was at AAA as a 29-year-old with the Diamondbacks for all of 2019 before not playing for the entirety of 2020. At AAA in 2019, Szczur did have an OPS just shy of .950, but he hasn’t been able to translate minor league success to the Majors well to this point.
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In his best season (2016), Szczur played in 107 games with the Cubs, batting for a slash line of .259/.312/.400 with five homers. Given that the Cardinals need some veteran outfield depth and the fact that it is a minor-league deal, there really isn’t’ any downside to making a move like this.
There is a good chance that Szczur spends the whole season in the Minors, but if the Cardinals need someone to fill in at any of the three outfield spots adequately, at least from a defensive standpoint.
On the excitement scale, this is a pretty boring signing, but again, there is not much risk and Szczur has five years of MLB experience under his belt.
It’s unclear if the Cardinals are done adding players like Szczur on minor-league deals, but at the end of the day, he’s a fine 31-year-old depth piece that at worst could play at AAA all year and at best, could be a bench bat.