By: Jonathan Goad
The Major League Baseball offseason has been underway for about a month now. We’ve already seen several moves and signings. Things are only heating up, as the big name free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, are likely fielding offers from everyone and their brother.
The St. Louis Cardinals need to make some splashes this offseason to keep pace with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. “Keep pace” is a nice way to put it. The Cards have missed the playoffs the last three years, and fans are getting restless and frustrated.
This could be the offseason that St. Louis lands a superstar. We’ve seen them whiff on a few big names over the past few years. Jason Heyward left for the division rival Cubs. David Price thought he was going to be a Cardinal before the Red Sox came swooping in with a better offer. Giancarlo Stanton simply didn’t want to play in the Gateway City.
Harper and Machado are the two biggest names and will likely be backing up the Brinks trucks to the highest bidder. It’s not out of the question to see one of those two get the first $400 million contract in MLB history.
The Cardinals have the money this offseason to make a big splash with either Harper or Machado. However, does either want to play in the Midwest? That’s the question we’ll find out hopefully sooner rather than later. Either would look great in Cardinal red and could be a cornerstone piece for the next 10 years as both players are only 26 years old.
St. Louis has a few needs they need to address this offseason. A corner infielder is necessary this offseason as well as relief pitching. There’s plenty of both available even possibly through a trade.
Machado should be priority number one. He wants to play shortstop, which would be fine for the Redbirds. They can slide Paul DeJong over to third to allow Machado to play shortstop. Kolten Wong can stay at second, and Matt Carpenter could play first base full time. The Cards would be dumb to not approach Machado with this plan in mind.
There’s also a lot of talk about bringing Bryce Harper to St. Louis. That would once again give the Cardinals a surplus of outfielders. Harper would slot into right field, with Harrison Bader in center, and Marcell Ozuna in right (this is how it should be if the Cards get Harper). That would leave Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neill as bench players or trade pieces. Harper would also provide the left-handed bat the club currently lacks.
If the Cards miss out on either of these studs, there’s still other options. Mike Moustakas can slot in nicely at third base for the Cardinals. It’s rumored that the Cardinals approached Josh Donaldson before he signed with the Braves. Moustakas wouldn’t be a bad option, and he’ll likely be cheaper than Donaldson’s deal (1-year, $23 million).
It has also been rumored that the Arizona Diamondbacks are willing to deal first basemen Paul Goldschmidt. If the Cards were willing to give up the young pitching that the D-backs want, Goldy would take over first base. Carpenter could move back to third base full time. This is another option the Cards should definitely consider.
The Cardinals could also use a left-handed relief pitcher or really, any relief pitcher would help. Andrew Miller’s name has been tossed around. He was a hot commodity a couple seasons ago. While his last couple years haven’t been as good, he could provide a nice veteran presence in a young bullpen. He would also be much cheaper than other options like Craig Kimbrel, Jeurys Familia, Adam Ottavino, and others.
Despite Kolten Won’s stellar defense last season, the club doesn’t seem committed to him long term. If they decided to go a different way, there’s options available. None of those options are as young as Wong, but they have produced better offensively. D.J. LeMahieu is an intriguing name. He’s only 30 and hits well. However, his numbers could be inflated by playing in Coors Field. Second base shouldn’t be a high priority, though.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what the St. Louis Cardinals try to pull off in these next couple months. Obviously, they’ll do their due diligence on the big names, but the offseason shouldn’t be considered a loss if they miss out on Harper or Machado. Consider it a loss if the Cards make small moves in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough or expect an older player to re-emerge as an impact player.