Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
So: The St. Louis Cardinals have signed Allen Craig to what appears to be a very team-friendly contract. Where does Matt Adams go from there?
Of the three positions where the St. Louis Cardinals finally hid Allen Craig once they realized he'd hit his way into the major leagues—right field, left field, and first base—two are now occupied through 2017. Matt Holliday has a $17 million team option that year, while Craig will be in the last guaranteed season of the five-year, $31 million contract the Cards announced Friday. The other spot belongs to Carlos Beltran in the short term and Oscar Taveras no later than 2014. Which leaves Matt Adams—who can only play one of those positions, and who hit .329/.362/.624 in 67 games at Memphis before a call-up and an injury cut his PCL debut short.
Wondering about Matt Adams's future with the Cardinals is a natural response to Craig's contract—after excited comments and high-fives, I mean—but his immediate future hasn't changed much at all. He's still blocked on both sides, by an affordable veteran and a better prospect, and he's still likely to get his playing time in 2013 parceled out in unsatisfying 15-day blocks.
But it is fair to react to the news that one of his routes for a long-term role with the Cardinals—Craig is traded at the top of his value—is now off the board. It probably wasn't ever on the board in the first place, given its distance from John Mozeliak's typical MO, but now that it's gone from our list of outlandish Hot Stove ideas it's easier than usual to see just how thoroughly Adams is blocked. Trading from depth is one of those things that's much easier to do on a comments thread than in practice, but trade bait might be the most important role left for Matt Adams in 2013.