The St. Louis Cardinals were mentioned as a “long shot” for star free-agent infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant, but it makes little sense given their plans.
Here is what we know about the St. Louis Cardinals’ offseason: they plan to target relievers, infield depth and a No. 6 starting pitcher once the CBA is agreed to.
We also know that signing a big-name free agent along the lines of Trevor Story, Carlos Correa or even Kyle Schwarber is unlikely. But what about Kris Bryant? MLBTradeRumors.com put together a list of free-agent fits for Bryant and while the Cardinals were mentioned, they were listed in the “longshot” category. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2022/01/who-will-sign-kris-bryant.html
“The Cards already have an excellent third baseman in Nolan Arenado, as well as a solid outfield of Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson and Lars Nootbaar,” MLBTR wrote. “After the lockout, they’re reportedly going to be focused on upgrading in the bullpen, though the addition of the DH to the NL could make them more interested in another bat.”
The universal DH is where this gets interesting and why, as MLBTR said, the Cardinals fit the longshot description for Bryant. But every indication, both privately and publicly, is that they will spend the bulk of their remaining budget on bullpen help (Ryan Tepera, Joe Kelly, Collin McHugh) and allow the internal options (Juan Yepez, Nolan Gorman, etc.) to enter Opening Day as the primary DH candidates.
The Cardinals want Yepez and Gorman to get their opportunities. But if they falter, or if they once again deal with a plethora of injuries while remaining firmly in contention, then adding a DH at the trade deadline will become a realistic option. But they can’t plan on Bryant being available, so such a scenario wouldn’t increase his chances of ending up in St. Louis.
Of course, the Cardinals know Bryant, TK, from his time with the Chicago Cubs. He presents an intriguing skillset – he can play all three outfield positions and all over the infield – while presenting 25-30+ home run upside. In 2021, he hit .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs and 73 RBI, and that would obviously play very well alongside Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
The problem is that unless something drastically changes during the lockout, the Cardinals will not be in on Bryant once the CBA is agreed to. It’s a fun thought, but one we shouldn’t waste energy on.