While the Cardinals’ focus in free agency will be the bullpen, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that they’re going to be actively seeking out bats as well. And because the market for middle-of-order sluggers figures to be so costly, they’ll be looking to engage in trade talks to land a big-time position player or two.
Goold specifically names Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, both of whom have been mentioned at various points as being available this winter. Yelich has a much more team-friendly deal and is perhaps less likely to be dealt as a result, but Stanton and the $285 million he’s owed over the next decade doesn’t really fit Derek Jeter’s modus operandi. But wait, wouldn’t that kind of shoot the hell out of the idea that the Cards are a small-market, homegrown team that doesn’t buy wins?
[T]he Cardinals have reportedly made one of their best young pitchers available if the Derek Jeter ownership will take back some of the money… Peter Gammons
Because the Marlins have a stated desire to flat-out dump salary, the return for Stanton might not be commensurate with his actual value. If they’re willing to eat some of that money, they’d probably be able to get back significantly more. Peter Gammons wrote as much, though he sort of buried that little tidbit from above in a piece otherwise devoted to the Red Sox.
Gammons didn’t name names, but did go on to say that Boston lacks pitching in the upper half of their system comparable to what St. Louis was willing to offer. Headlined by right-hander Alex Reyes, who missed all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery at the start of spring training, more than half of the Cards’ top 20 prospects are pitchers (10 RHP, one LHP).
Even with all that depth, it’s hard to believe the Cards would be willing to give up what it would take to land the pair of Marlins outfielders as a package. Such a move would require them to empty those stocked minor league cupboards and significantly increase payroll for years to come.
Goold also teases “options yet to surface,” though it isn’t clear whether he’s talking about other Marlins players or those from other teams that haven’t been openly shopped. It could really be either. For instance, the Red Sox might look to move someone if they land J.D. Martinez. But there’s really no reason to follow that particular rabbit trail at this point.
All I know is that I want no part of the Cubs having to face Stanton 19 times a season for the next 10 seasons. So, Mr. Jeter, if you’re reading this, please stand very firm and demand that another team assume all of Stanton’s contract and pay handsomely in terms of the player return. Pretty easy ask, I think.