Arizona is not usually on the list of great fishing holes. Then again, you don’t normally go fishing for major league hitters at lakes. That being said, Arizona is set to become a prime spot for MLB GM’s searching for that next big piece to fill out a roster for the 2019 season. Here’s a look at the biggest names in Arizona that are available and why the St. Louis Cardinals should consider a fishing trip in the desert.
Patrick Corbin, SP
Starting pitching depth is already a strength for this team. That begs the question then. Why Corbin? I’m starting with Corbin because when it comes to fishing, you don’t leave home without your bait and tackle. Patrick Corbin broke out in a big way with the Diamondbacks in 2013. Everyone was expecting big things from the lefty until he missed the entire 2014 season to Tommy John surgery. Now more than four years removed from surgery, Corbin is beginning to look like the pitcher many hoped he would become.
Corbin pitched 200 innings for the first time since that magical 2013 season last year. And you know what? This year was even better. He went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA and 2.47 FIP. His FIP was good for third best in the majors! His 6.3 WAR was also tied for fourth in the majors. With an 11.07 K/9 rate, Corbin would give the Cardinals something they haven’t had in a long time. A lefty starter that can dominate an opposing lineup.
You may say, “But what about right handed hitters?” Corbin held opposing righties to a .211 AVG last season. He’s a big arm with great stuff that can strike guys out from the left side. Keep this in mind as well. Many of our division rivals’ best hitters are lefties. Joey Votto, Christian Yelich, and Anthony Rizzo all hit from the left side. Corbin is the only starter on the open market the Cardinals should aggressively pursue. He’s more than solid. With question marks around the health of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and Carlos Martinez, Corbin would be the perfect addition to the Cardinals rotation.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Paul Goldschmidt is the big fish we’re after here. If the Cardinals can sign Corbin, then landing Goldy becomes easier as St. Louis will most likely have to deal from its plethora of young starters in order to land him. In Goldschmidt the Cardinals would be getting the superstar, three hole hitter that they have been missing. He’s a true threat with the bat and a good defender that has posted a WAR of 5.0 or better in five of the last six seasons. A move for Goldy is a no brainer.
There are some things that could complicate a trade for Goldschmidt. First of all, he’s 31 and entering an age where most sluggers begin to decline. Secondly, he only has one year left on his deal meaning you only get a one year rental unless he resigns with the club. The last thing that complicates a trade is what the Cardinals would have to give up in return.
One thing we know is that John Mozeliak and Co. are going to have to improve the team’s offense and defense somehow. If the choice is between signing an aging and injured Josh Donaldson and trading for a 31-year old in Goldy, I’ll take the latter. The wonder that is Cardinals Nation has kept other star players around before. Jim Edmonds and Matt Holliday both come to mind. I think the same could be true for Goldschmidt.
As far as what it would take, this is why I think a move to sign Corbin would be the first domino to fall. With Corbin in the rotation the Cardinals could afford to let Austin Gomber go in a package of say Gomber, Carson Kelly, and Randy Arozarena/Adolis Garcia/Luke Weaver. I’m not sure something along those lines lands Goldschmidt. It’s the kind of deal Arizona should take, and if they are shopping Goldy then the Cardinals front office should jump on it right away.
A. J. Pollock, OF
What’s a good fishing trip without catching some Pollock just for kicks? Granted, this signing would come with some risks and I would only recommend this should the Cardinals brass opt against signing Bryce Harper. The hard truth is that even if St. Louis were able to swing a deal for Goldy, his bat alone would not fix this offense. It would go a long way towards that, but it would still be incomplete. In an ideal world, they trade for Goldy and sign Harper.
We don’t live in an ideal world though and I doubt the Cardinals front office has the cajones to make a play for Goldy and Harper. In the world we do live in though, landing Pollock is a fine addition. He is a true five tool outfielder when healthy. That’s the real sticking point though isn’t it? At 30 years old, Pollock’s legs will begin to slow down. It’s only a matter of time. He’s also used to playing center field. A move to right field would save Pollock’s legs and give the Cardinals a plus glove in the outfield to go with a solid bat and difference maker on the base paths.
Pollock put up a WAR of 6.8 as recently as 2015. He’s probably not going to steal close to 40 bases again, but if he steals 20 bases and plays solid defense alongside Harrison Bader while batting .280 with 20 homers then he would be well worth the signing. That would still leave the team with plenty of assets to deal from to shore up the bullpen.
These would all be solid moves for the organization. Will it happen? Probably not. I don’t know that this is a front office that’s willing to be aggressive enough for a series of moves such as these. What do you say Mo? Shall we go on a fishing trip in Arizona?