The St. Louis Cardinals were listed as a top landing spot for free-agent outfielder Jorge Soler, who makes a lot of sense at designated hitter.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been connected to every big-name designated hitter option from Kyle Schwarber to Nelson Cruz. Both are unlikely, however, especially Schwarber, considering that his reported asking price – four years, $80 million – is going to far exceed what president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is comfortable paying.
But what about a cheaper option along the lines of, say, Jorge Soler? Bleacher Report recently listed the top 10 free agent destinations for Soler and placed the Cardinals at No. 2, behind only the Atlanta Braves.
As a designated hitter option, Soler would be perfect. While he has elite power, evidenced by a World Series-clinching home run that left Minute Maid Park, he’s a limited player defensively. Putting him at DH would mask his defensive woes and allow the Cardinals to maximize his offensive abilities, pairing him with Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill, among others.
But if the Cardinals did put Soler in the field, and gave one of the above players a game or two in the DH spot, they may be better equipped to make up for his defensive struggles than other teams. The Cardinals, of course, feature five Gold Glove players, including two in the outfield in O’Neill and Harrison Bader. But if Soler does sign in St. Louis, he would be the primary designated hitter while Dylan Carlson would see significant time in right field.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Soler to sign a three-year, $36 million deal, which is significantly cheaper than Schwarber, and would allow the front office to sign another impact relief pitcher and potentially a cheap veteran starting pitcher.
So what would you rather have: Soler, one of Joe Kelly/Ryan Tepera and a cheap veteran starting pitcher or Kyle Schwarber?
That first option is quite enticing and is surely something that Mozeliak and the front office will have to consider once the lockout is over. But the odds remain in favor of the Cardinals spending most of their money on upgrading the bullpen while pursuing cheaper alternatives on offense and the rotation.