Rumors linking Nelson Cruz to St. Louis Cardinals make little sense for many reasons, especially because his asking price will be too high.
The St. Louis Cardinals are looking for another bat, perhaps in the mold of a Colin Moran or Brad Miller type. Both are veteran options who would be low-cost acquisitions and give them the infield depth that they reportedly seek.
So it was surprising to see that Jim Bowden of The Athletic list the Cardinals as one of the “best fits” for free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz. Among the other top fits, Bowden wrote, include the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners.
To be fair, I can see why Bowden would think the Cardinals are a fit for Cruz. After all, they need a designated hitter if the National League implements it, as expected, and are clearly in win-now mode, evidenced by the signings of Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and Steven Matz, among others, and the trade last offseason that brought Nolan Arenado to St. Louis.
But the majority of the Cardinals’ money is likely to go toward addressing the bullpen, where reports have linked them to free-agent righties Joe Kelly, Ryan Tepera and Collin McHugh. Each player is going to command salaries over $5 million and after signing Steven Matz to a four-year, $44 million deal, it seems unlikely that the Cardinals would want to sign 1-2 of the relievers AND add Cruz, who signed a $14 million deal last winter.
Besides, the Cardinals are reportedly confident in their internal options at DH if it’s indeed implemented. Among those options include Juan Yepez, who is the favorite for the position after a breakout season in the minors. Lars Nootbaar will garner consideration and Nolan Gorman, the top infield prospect, will see some time at DH when he is eventually called up.
Now, is there reason to be skeptical of this plan? Of course. The three players listed above have not proven themselves in the majors and there’s a chance they each struggle this season. If that’s indeed the case, look for the Cardinals to target a DH at the trade deadline.
But a DH, especially a high priced one such as Cruz, makes little sense for the Cardinals – and does not appear to be something on their radar at this time.