• Chris Lollis

St. Louis Cardinals: Potential Off-Season Targets (Offense)

St. Louis Cardinals: Potential Off-season Targets (Offense)

The St. Louis Cardinals will enter this off-season having missed the playoffs three straight years. Whether you want to blame the bullpen, base running or defense, one thing can’t be ignored, they need a feared bat in the lineup.

While Matt Carpenter came up just shy of leading the NL in home runs on the season, his hot streak was in the middle of a weak start and finish. His longest hitting streak was eight games and he only had one HR in the month of September. One interesting stat was that over the course of 677 plate appearances, Matt didn’t ground into a double play all season.

This Cardinals team needs a three hole hitter. Since Carpenter can only seem to feel comfortable at leadoff, St. Louis can’t afford to plug in the likes of Jose Martinez, Matt Adams & Tyler O’Neill in that spot and expect true consistency.

Let’s look at four players that the team can look at this off-season, that can be brought in and change the dynamic of this offense.

Paul Goldschmidt.

The 31-year old Goldschmidt has spent his entire 8-year career in Arizona. There has been rumor that the Diamondbacks may be looking to move on from their star first baseman as well as starting pitcher Zack Greinke via trades this off-season. If that is indeed the case, could the Cardinals be a fit for “Goldy”?

Consistency at the three spot, is something St. Louis hasn’t had in awhile, and Goldschmidt has been a very consistent hitter in his career. The 6 x All-Star has won 3 Silver Slugger Awards, and has a career batting avg. of .297.

Last season he got off to a relatively slow start much like Matt Carpenter. Struggling early on with a .198 avg., he got things turned around batting .390 in the month of June, earning him NL Player of the Month.

The hangups on perusing him via trade, is that, of this list, acquiring Goldschmidt will cost the Cardinals prospects. It isn’t going to be low-level prospects either. There is also the fact that he will only have one year under contract, so he would basically be a one-year rental for giving up some top young talent. St. Louis would have to hope they could sell him on the city in hopes of re-signing him, if the team wanted to keep him long-term.

I admit, having a bat like his plugged into the St. Louis Cardinals lineup would be nice, but the team would prefer a lefty at the plate. That, and the fact they would have to move Carpenter to 3B, are reasons I don’t see a natural fit for going too hard after Goldschmidt.

Josh Donaldson.

The mentioning of Josh Donaldson amongst Cardinals fans, gets mixed reviews. Immediately labeling him as “second-tier” and “injury prone”, fans alone make him seem like more of a consolation prize than a key acquisition.

Donaldson will be 33 in December, and with playing 113 games in 2017 and a combined 52 regular season games with Toronto & Cleveland in 2018, it would be a ‘proceed with caution’ type of signing.

He likely won’t command top dollar, but he won’t exactly be a cheap signing either. The Cardinals currently have the likes of Jedd Gyorko & Yairo Munoz sharing time at 3B, and when Mozeliak spoke on this off-season, it seemed as if the hot corner may be a point of focus.

Donaldson’s 16-game stint with the Indians had him batting .280 for them, but when you combine that with his .234 avg. with the Blue Jays in 36 games, you get a .246 hitter that may not be much better overall than what the Cardinals could get out of Gyorko/Munoz.

There’s no question that Donaldson isn’t the same hitter he was a few years ago, and he’s not going to get younger. A 2-3 year deal at most, but would be more welcomed as the second bat we need, and not the primary heavy hitter.

Manny Machado.

Machado who is currently playing in this year’s World Series for the Dodgers, is a seemingly good fit for St. Louis. While Machado has voiced that his position of preference in 2019 would be shortstop, there is the possibility of moving Paul DeJong from SS to 3B to accommodate the move.

Manny turned some fans off with his “I’m no Johnny Hustle” comment, and some of his “dirty” antics this postseason. However, fans can’t ignore that this guy is a gamer.

Between his time with Baltimore & Los Angeles in 2018, he finished the regular season with a .297 avg., 35 doubles, 37 HR and 103 RBI. He was also named an All-Star for the fourth time in his career.

At 26 years old, there is a ton of upside with bringing in Machado. He plays with fire, and while some of those antics may have been a turnoff, what he brings offensively shouldn’t be overlooked.

It’s unclear of what kind of contract it will take to land Manny, and just as unclear is the list of teams out there who will be willing to make him the face of their franchise for the next decade. Could the Cardinals be bidders for his services? We shall see.

Bryce Harper.

People either love this guy or hate him. There is no in-between. Harper has been described as a diva by many, for the excessive hair flips & bat flips.

At 26 years old, Bryce has had quite the MLB career already. The former Rookie of the Year (2012), and NL MVP (2015), he was named an All-Star in 2018 for the sixth time in his seven seasons. He also won the HR Derby where he displayed that power from the left side of the plate that St. Louis is looking for.

Harper’s overall 2018 avg. of .249, has been what some naysayers point at, but he’s averaging a .279 batting avg. in his career. Like Machado, his youth is a plus on thinking that he will likely continue to grow as a player and not regress.

The bidding with be high when it comes to the talent that Bryce Harper brings. Aside from said talent, he also has marketing potential that would put asses in the seats at Busch Stadium. Would it be worth an 8-10 year $350M + deal to see the second half of Harper’s career to be cemented in St. Louis?

Some fans say yes. Some fans say no. What say you?

Overall, these are just four offensive players that could each bring different skill sets to a St. Louis Cardinals team in need of getting over the hump. As much as we all like to speculate what’s best for this franchise, none of us know for sure which (if any) that the front office will pursue.

One thing I think we can all agree on, is that the Cardinals do need to do something to put themselves as a top contender for 2019. It’s nice at times being the underdog, sneaking into the playoffs (although not of late), but many fans are ready to see their team back at the top.

One or more of these bats, would definitely help in that regard.

Thanks for reading.

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