What has transpired this off season (at least in the Cardinals camp) can best be described by the popular Howie Mandel game show, Deal or No Deal.
It has seemed like a daily dose of on again off again reports. They linked the Cardinals to Ozuna, Donaldson and Arenado. Fans were throwing out names such as Rendon, Betts, Bumgarner, Marte and others. It seems fans and media alike wanted a deal at any cost. However. It appears that John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. were not keen on making a deal. At least the kind the fans wanted.
First let's look at thye moves that have been made
The Cardinals started the off season by extending a qualifying offer to Marcel Ozuna. He declined on Nov 14th. and later signed with the Atlanta Braves on Jan 21.
Then came the positioning moves
Nov 1 Mike Mayers and Joe Hudson were Designated for Assignment.
Mayers was claimed off waivers by the Angles.
Hudson cleared waivers the was outrighted to the minors. Where he then files for Free Agency. V At the same time Jordan Hicks, Bret Cecil and Lane Thomas were moved off the 60 IL and placed on the 40 man roster.
Nov 12 A DEAL was announced, Free Agent Adam Wainwright was inked to a 1 year contract worth $5 million dollars.
Nov. 20, Dominic Leone was Designated for assignment.
At the same time the Cardinals purchased the contracts of Elehuris Montero, Jake Woodford and Alvaro Seijas. These moves were made to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. It also effectively filled the 40 man roster.
Nov 25, Dominic Leone was released.
Dec 2, Contract tendered to John Gant (signed Jan 10)
December 18, Adolis Garcia was designated for assignment and later sent to the Texas Rangers for Cash considerations.
At the same time St Louis signed Kwang Hyun Kim from the Korean Baseball Organization to a two year $8 million dollar deal.
January 9, OFs Randy Arozarena, Jose Martinez and a balance round Draft pick No. 38 sent to the Rays for left-hander Matthew Liberatore, catcher Edgardo Rodriguez and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick No. 66 overall.
Jan 14 The Cardinals got LF Austin Dean from the Miami Marlins for minor league OF Diowill Burgos.
Jan 23 Signed Free Agent Matt Wieters
Feb 6 Ricardo Sanchez was claimed off waivers from Seattle at the same Ramon Urias was designated for assignment
Feb 12, Jordan Hicks was placed on the 60 Day IL and The Cardinals signed Free Agent Brad Miller.
On the surface these do not look like much. But there are some keys here.
*Wainwright low cost risk for arguably one of the most consistent pitchers from last year's rotation.
*Gant has been solid for the most part last years second half was not so good but he still has a fairly high upside. and locking him down BEFORE arbitration is not a bad thing.
*Kim was a good signing in that it gives a solid LH option to the rotation 190 1/3 IP as a starter last year in the KBO. The $8 million dollar price tag is again low risk with potential high reward.
*The ability to land Top LH prospect Liberatore May have seem to come at a high cost Arozarena and J. Martinez. We don't know much about the Catcher Edgardo Rodriguez. He does add depth to the minors. With the addition of a roster spot you could see teams carry 3 Catchers. Martinez was going to be not much more than a bench bat. Arozarena, people wanted to see more of him but with Fowler and Bader pretty much set, then you add to that mix; O'Neill, Thomas and Edman. then there Is Carlson and Williams. Arozarena became expendable.
*Liberatore Has a high upside and comes with very good credentials Having young LH starters for the future is a good thing to have around.
*Adding Austin Dean they were able to add MLB experience for minor league talent Dean could be a nice bench bat.
*Matt Wieters- a true MLB back-up and with the expanded roster the Birds could carry a 3rd catcher which would allow them to use Wieters bat off the bench.
*Brad Miller - An infield option with some pop in his bat.
Now, I am not going to pretend that these moves are anything that fills the need of
A replacing Marcel Ozuna or
B adding that extra bat.
So why didn't we make a deal to fit the need?
The Cardinals have the #24 prospect according to MLB. in young Third Baseman Nolan Gorman who could be ready as early as 2021(although more likely 2022).
The first name people wanted was Anthony Rendon. While his bat would look nice next to Goldschmidt. To do that would have required a long term deal (He signed for 7 Yrs $245 million with LAA). A deal that would push him past when Gorman would be considered ready had to be a concern. You could always shift his position. At 19 he he has time to develop elsewhere in the line up but 1B would be the only logical option. However Goldschmidt is signed through 2024. So while feasible I don't think it was a desirable signing option at that price tag. SO No deal.
Plus there is also the more immediate situation of the Matt Carpenter extension making him a very expensive bench bat if you were to get a power bat for 3B. If they would have been able to make a deal with Rendon. There would have to have been some type of deal with either Fowler or Carpenter both have NTCs
What about Nolan Arenado. That is a deal that WAS reportedly pursued. Although no one knows the exact details that were discussed there were many rumors Flaherty and Hudson were names everyone was starting with. One thing that almost certainly was a condition by the Cardinals would have been that the Rockies take Carpenter. This would make sense if the Cardinals were willing to take the Salary of Arenado they would need some amount of payroll relief. Arenado $32 million vs Carpenter $19.5 million. Many rumors swirled about what Colorado wanted in return. One would surmise it to be at least 4 players from a list that would have included Flaherty, Hudson, Liberatore, Helsley, Knizner , Carlson, Thomas, Gorman and maybe even Edman. I would be willing to bet Two or three of those names were NO DEAL for St. Louis. Now there is still the situation that Arenado is 9 years older than Gorman. However he is Nolan Arenado! Even though a deal was not struck prior to the season It would not be out of the realm of possibility to see a deal struck at mid season once each team sees what they have. I don't know how close they were to a deal but, to say that Arenado and Colorado still have outstanding issues would probably be an understatement. Time will tell.
So why not Josh Donaldson? This is again a situation that The Cardinals wanted a one or two year deal, so as to not block Gorman. Donaldson was reportedly wanting 4 years and at 34 years old a 4 year deal would seem to be against what the Cardinals were after. I think the Cardinals were looking a two years $45 million. Donaldson was looking for more, so No deal. Also the same Matt Carpenter situation applies here as it did with Rendon.
There were other rumors Such as Mookie Betts. Not sure how hard the Cardinals were on this possibility. My guess is they were not looking at the Outfield as an option. which would explain the lack of interest in Nick Castellanos.
I can only make the guess here that the Cardinals are on a youth movement with OF such as O'Neill, Thomas, Bader, Edman, DeJong, Knizner, Carlson, Gorman and the multitude of young stud arms. How this pans out will remain to be seen.
Thanks for reading
feel free to leave comments here or hit me up on twitter @bortas2002
Play Ball and GO CARDS!