Kyle Schwarber has been mentioned as a fit for the Cardinals, but don’t expect the left-handed slugger to end up in St. Louis.
It has been recently reported that the St. Louis Cardinals are looking for infield depth to deepen their lineup, with Colin Moran and Brad Miller among the names linked to them in reports. But is it possible that they look to sign a bigger name?
In a recent mailbag, Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors was asked if the Cardinals were looking for a left-handed bat, specifically Kyle Schwarber or Joc Pederson. Here is what Polishuk said:
“Either would fit, especially on a team that will have a DH available. The Cards probably won’t want to detract from any playing time from their current outfield trio since they were all so good last year, but there’s nothing wrong with having a LH hitter.”
To be clear: Polishuk is not reporting that the Cardinals are interested in Schwarber. He is saying that he makes sense, especially as a left-handed hitter, in a right-handed heavy lineup. Adding him would not only balance out the lineup, but would add a fourth hitter capable of hitting 30+ home runs alongside Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill.
What offense is capable of matching that kind of firepower? The Dodgers? The Blue Jays? The Astros? It at least puts the Cardinals in the conversation, and only narrows the gap between them and the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
Now it’s time to play realist. Schwarber is said to be seeking a three-year, $60 million deal which, by all accounts, is reasonable for a player who hit 31 home runs and posted a career-high 148 OPS+ in 113 games last season. The three-year benchmark likely appeals to the Cardinals front office, considering they prefer not to hand out long-term deals. But the sticking point that makes a deal unlikely is the $20 million annual price tag.
It would be the third such contract on the current payroll and fourth deal worth at least $17.5 million on the 2022 payroll. If there is ever a season that the Cardinals would consider stretching the payroll, it would be this season since it’s Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright’s final seasons.
So far, however, the Cardinals have held firm on not doing that. Maybe their thinking changes after the lockout. But expect Schwarber to play elsewhere in 2022.