Cardinals: Looking back at why St. Louis did not sign Bryce Harper
By Josh Jacobs
The Cardinals need for Bryce Harper was a big as anyone in baseball
After finishing 88-74 in 2018 and missing the playoffs, it was clear that St. Louis desperately needed a big time bat in their lineup. They had traded for Marcell Ozuna the offseason prior, and leaned on his bat alongside Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, and a collection of bats who are above-average at best. They needed a superstar bat in their lineup, specifically in the outfield.
The Cardinals outfield at the time consisted of Ozuna, Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez, and new comers Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill, who were just getting at bats in St. Louis for the first time. Slotting a guy like Harper into right-field made all of the sense in the world. The Cardinals were just above league-average in OPS, but would not be able to contend with the best in the NL without some game changers at the plate.
The Cardinals did make an incredible move to head in that direction, though. On December 5th, 2018, the Cardinals traded for perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt in a steal of a package, and were able to extend him for another five seasons after 2019. Goldschmidt was the kind of bat they needed in their lineup, but even so, they were not going to be World Series contenders without another superstar in that lineup.
Some may try to argue that the Cardinals could not make two moves like that in one offseason, but if you look at their payroll and the alternative decisions they made, you can see how Harper in St. Louis could have happened if they wanted it to.