In Part 1, I attempted to put some reasons to the slow Free Agent Market as a whole. In Part two I will look at it from the Cardinal perspective as I see it.
Fans of the Cardinals have been very vocal in their criticism of the perceived lack of interest or at least urgency to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Even though the cardinals have significantly upgraded the offense with the addition of Paul Goldschmidt. They also obtained a top LH bullpen addition in Andrew Miller. These are two areas that were of priority big bat on a corner IF position and LH relief help. Yet people still claim that we need Harper if we are going to be a playoff team. So what is the Cardinal hesitation?
FIRST A LOOK BACK
A lot of this stems from last year The Cardinal front office stated they wanted to address the Rotation, bullpen and at least 1 big bat to replace Matt Holiday. When we couldn't get Giancarlo Stanton. Even though it was well known he did not want to play in the Midwest. Fans screamed for Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas. Some even said we should have signed J.D. Martinez. Pitching was a different story. The Free Agent Market was slim with Yu Darvish, Jake Areitta and Lance Lynn topping the list. We were also rumored to be looking at any one of 3 pitchers from the Tampa Bay Rays starters; Chris Archer, Jake Ordozzi, Alex Cobb and closer Alex Colome. The Outfield looked crowded with Pham, Piscotty, Fowler J. Martinez, Randall Grichuck and a number of kids from the minors looking for a shot Like Sierra, Bader, Arezorena, A. Garcia and the newly acquired Tyler O'Neil. We traded for Marcell Ozuna, signed Miles Mikolas for the Rotation and obtained Luke Gregerson, Dominc Leone, Bud Norris and Greg Holland for the bullpen. Gone from the equation were Piscotty, Grichuk, Pham and Sierra.
WHAT WAS NEEDED AFTER 2018
After a slew of injuries, and inconsistent performances and some late season pieces Chasen Shreve, Tyler Webb, Matt Adams. The Cardinals were again entered the off season needed a specific wish list. Corner infield bat, LH bench Bat, LH help for the bullpen and closer. While people are clamoring for Harper or Machado. The reality is the Cardinals Have rarely EVER offered 10 year contracts and as I pointed out in part 1 the history of 10 year deals is not good. They did add Paul Goldschmidt (corner infield bat) and Andrew Miller (left hand relief help).
Drew Robinson (LH bench bat). Looking to sign Goldschmidt to an extension is to me primary importance at this stage. Primarily when you are looking at possible extensions to Miles Mikolas, Micheal Wacha, Marcel Ozuna. and exercising the option on Matt Carpenter next year. I do think by focusing on a Goldschmidt extension can help with what else they can do and WHO they can attract. With a young team like the Cardinals have DeJong, Bader, O'Neil, Flaherty, Gant, and a big gun like Goldschmidt for the next 5 years, IF, IF, IF Harper were to move from the 10 year deal to a more reasonable 5 - 7 years The Cardinals by committing to Goldy and with the youth could be quite an enticement for a Harper.
OTHER FACTORS IN PLAY
With guys like O'Neil, Adrolis Garcia, Randy Arezorena and Lane Thomas all deserving a shot. We still have Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez and Tyler O'Neil. Is signing Harper the thing to do?
Now, before you start in I am in NO WAY suggesting that any of those players will be the next Bryce Harper. I don't have a crystal ball and will not go that far out on a limb. (although we don't know what the guys from the farm are truly capable of or how they will develop). What I am saying is with a surplus of young promising (contract friendly) guys waiting for their chance is spending $350 million for 10 years on one player really a must do scenario?
There is also the idea of who we get rid of? If we sign Harper someone on the current roster has to leave.
Fowler draws the most wrath after last season but he is still owed quite a bit of money and 3 years remaining on his contract.
JMartinez was easily your most consistent hitter over the last two years but obviously not at the Harper level.
O'Neil showed promise last year and has pretty much proved all he can in AAA.
With Drew Robinson in the fold as your LH bench bat (presumably). We have a long jam in the outfield again. So even without signing Harper we have a dilemma to solve.
IS THE FUTURE CBA CAUSING CONCERN?
The Cardinals can handle a Goldschmidt extension and signing Harper right NOW, but what about after the 2021 CBA? What will the landscape look like then? Or 5 years down the road? These things along with the history of 10 year deals I think are making the landscape hard to judge. If the Free Agent structure changes and guys reach FA earlier that puts a different spin on it. So instead of having 6 years of control over Gorman what if we only have 3? And we have Harper for 10 years at 35 million and are trying to keep Flaherty, Bader, Gant Say Gorman is the real deal and ready. What do we do then? A high priced player headed to the "wrong" side of 30 with 5 more years costing $175 million. and guys who will command millions coming off arbitration. Right now teams are tight lipped about the discussions they have had with Harper so to my thinking he is not convincing people he is worth the money and time he is asking. If teams thought he was he and Machado would be signed by now, that includes the Cardinals.
THE CARDINALS ARE TOO CHEAP
I hear this all the time and it is the biggest bunch of CACA that I have ever heard. They have spent money, they may not have spent it in the wisest fashion at times Over paying for Mike Leake, Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil. They spent money on Greg Holland who pitched terrible for ST. Louis then when he left pitched like the guy we were looking for.
Cecil has had injuries and in-consistencies that has plagued he 2 years with the club.
Fowler had a good 2017 then the abysmal falloff in 2018.
Leake had flashes but never produced to the level of his contract.
So YES they have spent money sometimes it hasn't worked out
I think the Cardinals like others are being very cautious with the Free Agent Market. I don't think they are done I think they are playing the waiting game 8 days from now pitchers and catchers report. If there is to be another signing I believe it will be
Craig Kimbrel for 3 years.
Harper outside shot 6 years.
I don't see Machado fitting in with the third basemen on the farm.
However Moustakas is out there and could be a two year stop gap waiting for Gorman.
Or they could go rotation and make a 3 year deal with Dallas Kuechel.
That is my thoughts feel free to comment here or on hit me on Twitter @bortas2002. or you can email me at Bortas2002@yahoo.com