The St Louis Cardinals need a No. 4 outfielder. Adam Eaton isn’t a fit, and Gregory Polanco sure won’t be a fit either.
We recently came to the conclusion that the St. Louis Cardinals should not pursue Adam Eaton, who was recently released by the Los Angeles Angels, because 1) he’s a significantly declining player and 2) there would likely be better options available.
It did not take long for another option to become available. The Pittsburgh Pirates placed outfielder Gregory Polanco on waivers, as first reported by Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic, with the team allowing him the opportunity of latching on with a contender before the postseason.
Polanco, 29, was once a top prospect for the Pirates, earning a five-year, $35 million extension in April 2016 after showing promise early in his career. He was expected to form a long-term foundation with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. Instead, while Polanco improved in the seasons after the extension, he underwent surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder in 2018 and has been a shell of himself ever since.
Polanco was terrible in a COVID-shortened season last year, hitting .153/.214/.325. He has been slightly better this season, hitting .198/.277/.343 in 101 games, but was bad enough that a 44-90 team thought a player with his talent was worth moving on from. Of course, his $2.4 million salary for the remainder of the season likely played a large factor in their decision, though Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says that if Polanco goes unclaimed, the Pirates intend to keep him in the organization.
We will see if that ultimately comes to fruition, but the Cardinals should stay far away. Yes, Polanco was once a highly regarded prospect, but at this stage of their careers Eaton would be the better option both on the field and financially, which says a lot about how bad Polanco has been. And the Cardinals, who could use a fourth outfielder and once explored such an addition at the trade deadline, likely agree.
Perhaps the Cardinals would be more inclined to take on a player like Polanco if they had a better history of developing players, instead of watching Randy Arozarena and Adolis Garcia (and now Lane Thomas?) thrive after leaving St. Louis. But despite the need, and a talented player in Polanco becoming available, the Cardinals are very likely to stay away even as they fight for the second wild card spot.