Over the years there have been good players manning Third Base for St Louis. Names like Whitey Kurowski, Ken Boyer, Mike Shannon, Joe Torre, Ken Rietz, Terry Pendelton, Todd Ziele, Scott Rolen and David Freese. The hot corner has been held by good gloves and big bats and some times both. Since 2014 however it has been an unsettled position. It has been obvious to many that Matt Carpenter is at best an average fielder at 3B, while his hitting has been declining the last 3 years. The possibility of him being the answer has faded into the sunset.
For 2021 St, Louis needs to find a way to generate more offense and Third Base is one place to add it. The Cardinals farm system has talented hot corner options. According to MLB the Cardinals have 3 Third Basemen in their top ten. Nolan Gorman(20) #2, Jordan Walker #6 and Elehuris Montero(22) #8. Then there is Malcom Nunez #16 and Juan Yepez #24. I think it is impossible to gauge the effect of the 2020 season on farm hands around the league. So for the most part all we have is the 2019 evaluations.
Nolan Gorman the much ballyhooed 1st round pick in 2018. He has a high power grade at 60 and being only 20 years old the chance for that power to develop further is definitely there. The speculation is he will be ready by 2022. He has a strong arm and average range. He will be in Spring Training to prove what he can do.
Elehuris Montero is another name that many have heard some about. He has not shown the prolific power that Gorman has but does have some power. He has hit for good average with a very strong arm and he has the look of a big league hitter at 6'3" 235. He has good bat speed but needs to get more control of his swing. Montero was slated for a 2021 arrival. He was in satellite camp but after a positive covid test was held out for a period of time. Expect to see Montero in Spring Training and competing for a roster spot.
Juan Yepez is a name many will remember as part of the Matt Adams trade to Atlanta. He has quietly advanced in the system He plays multiple positions First Base, Third Base and corner Outfield. He has hit well with decent power in the minors for St Louis advancing two teams a year. Even though he is only 22 he has six years in the minors (he was signed as an international Free Agent in 2014 as a 16 year old). He also has a 2021 ETA, so expect to see him in Jupiter as well.
Malcom Nunez is a 2018 international signing by St Louis He shows raw power a good arm and room to improve. It is possible he could draw an invite to camp as he is slated for a 2022 big league arrival. He could play into future plans and how guys like Gorman and Montero are used.
I think Both Walker and Nunez are down the road projects that we will hear about over the next couple of years.
Jordan Walker was drafted in the first round this year. While he still has maturing to do he is already projected as a having good power. With a 6'5" and 220Lb frame, he looks like a power hitter. He has a comparable arm to both Gorman and Montero. however it will be a few years before he will be ready(ETA 2024).
As for Free agents the 3B list is quite thin on instant fixes. the top three in my opinion are Justin Turner(36), Jake Lamb(30), and Asdrubal Cabrera(35).
All three are proven 3B Justin Turner is probably the best offensively in terms of average and power and is above average defensively. But at 36 anything past a 1 year deal would be a risk. He made $20M last year so given his age I don't that is what he will command in 2021.
Jake Lamb does have power but has been on the decline the last couple of years. He is not a big average hitter and does struggle against LH pitching. He could conceivably be a two or 3 year low cost About $10-$15M 3 year platoon option and hope he can get his power swing back. He is also only an average fielder at Third Base.
Asdrubal Cabrera like Turner would be only a one or two year fix. He would not be long term. He doesn't have quite the power of Turner or Lamb (Avg about 18 per year) but is a slightly above average fielder. money wise it would be about $5-$6M for 2 years
The one thing about a trade for 3B is, what are you traded for? Is it for a stop gap to Gorman or are we skipping Gorman. I think for the organization to skip Gorman it would have to be someone already with a high upside but also someone they can control for at least 3 years or until they get to Walker or Nunez.
Nolan Arenado does not fit in that while he has years left on his contract he has an opt out for 2022. The Price we would have to pay would be steep and would include probably a catcher an OF and some pitching. not sure we have the right parts or are willing to give that up. Then of course there is the $200M salary for the next 6 years.
Players that does make sense IF he would be available is
Rafael Devers(24) of the Boston Red Sox. Still under team control until 2024 He is Arb eligible 2021. He would be a solid big bat option although in Busch Stadium would probably be closer to his 2018 numbers than 2019. Which would still be a very nice upgrade. Here again not real sure what Boston would want I am sure Gorman and a pitcher or an OF would be the starting point.
Kyle Seager(33) Is someone the Cardinals could look at. Very good defensively as well as a 20+ HR bat. He has 1 year remaining but there is a team option for 2023 which could fit into St Louis plans. His contract of $19.5M could be a stumbling block. Unless we could unload a contract like Carlos Martinez to free up some room.
SS option and moving DeJong to 3B. There are some intriguing options here in terms of Free Agents Didi Gregorius(31), Marcus Semien(30), Andrelton Simmons(31) .
Of this List Semien is projected as being the most expensive $19,000,000 Just a year removed from his big 2019 season .285/.370/.523 33HRs and 92 RBIs and at just 30 years old. He could be serviceable for 3 to 4 years. Not sure The cardinals would be a player at his market value.
Didi Gregorius has shown good power for the Yankees At 31 he still has a few years left and could be affordable at a market value of $30,000,000 for 3 years.
Andrelton Simmons While not much of a power bat he does hit for a solid average and is a decent fielder with enough range and arm for the SS position. he could be a 1 or two year stop gap with a market value of $7,500,000 per year.
As for a SS trade Trevor Story(28), and Fransisco Lindor(27) are two that people seem to look at. While either would be a nice shot in the arm what are we going to have to give up, IF they are available? There is the other fact that both are eligible for Free Agency in 2022. Both will also exact a steep price. Lindor is arb eligible in 2021 and made $17.5M last year If Cleveland would take a Carlos Martinez in a package it could be doable. Any deal would likely cost Edman, a pitching prospect an MLB pitcher and a top prospect for ONE year of Lindor. As given his age It is almost a sure thing he WILL test Free Agency. Story Is pretty much the same line he is due to make $18.5M in 21 and Colorado will want value for him in terms of middle infield and catching help both areas which the cardinals are admittedly thin themselves. So I do not think a SS trade is in the offering.
Another option is 2B where right now Tommy Edman is penciled in. Edman has played a good 3B. While not a power hitter he does have occasional pop in his bat. He could be a nice internal option for the hot corner but it would mean finding a 2nd baseman. The only 40 man roster options could be Matt Carpenter(35) or Edmundo Sosa(24). Carpenter would be a huge step backward from Kolten Wong. Sosa at this point would be more valuable as middle infield back up.
So the options are sign Kolten Wong(30) 4 years $38 - $40M. That is not a bad price for a 2 time Gold Glove winner. Hitting has always been an up and down issue. over the last 4 years however is cumulative BA is .273 with an OBO 0f .356.
DJ LeMahieu(32) Good average decent power and a slick fielder who could also play 3rd if pressed but much better utilized at 2B.
With his market value in the $20 - $22M he is outside the Redbird comfort zone.
Dee Gordon(32) could be an interesting choice He has been able to hit for decent average and been fairly adept in base stealing 333 Sb in 10 years. He has limited power and only an average fielder his Market value is low at just over $2M.
Cesar Hernandez(30) a a good hitter with occasional pop but an average to slightly above average fielder. with a Market Value of about $8M for one year He would be a low cost gap option.
Only the front office knows what direction they want to go (power or average). Much will depend on their ultimate feeling about guys like O'Neill, Carlson, DeJong and Edman. With high dollar contracts like Carpenter and Fowler falling of the books after this year a structured contract with a lower 1st year might work depending on who they are dealing with.
Those are my thoughts let me know what you think. You can comment here or
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