Atop Derrick Goold’s marathon chat today was a poll question provided by the Post-Dispatch’s Ben Frederickson asking where Matt Adams is likely to see the majority of his innings in 2017: the Cardinals bench, first base for the Cardinals, first base for another National League team, or DHing in the American League. As I type this, nearly half of the respondents envision Adams spending a bulk of his 2017 on the Cardinals bench.
Which makes sense.
The Cardinals have committed to Matt Carpenter at first base, something Goold reaffirmed in the chat today and added that Carpenter specifically wanted to know where he would be this season so he could prepare, presumably both physically and mentally, for the position. Carpenter is a core player, I would argue their most valuable position player, who also hits from the left side, and barring an injury to him, or a setback in depth at second or third base, regular playing time for Adams at first may be hard to come by.
So if that’s the case, I’m going to quickly return to a question that’s been covered a few times recently on these pages, and that’s would the Cardinals be better off focusing on signing Brandon Moss? Like Adams, he can fill in for Carpenter at first, but can also play the outfield where depth is a concern. This was also covered in Goold’s chat, but this is another reminder that the Cardinals’ projected left fielder, Randal Grichuk, has never seen more than 478 plate appearances in one season, and their fourth outfielder (Pham, Thomas) has never eclipsed 200. Their fifth outfielder is currently unknown. But Goold mentioned that the Cardinals don’t seem to be interested in bringing back Moss, and are committed to moving on from the Moss/Holliday-type identity of the team. (If it’s not clear by now, I’d encourage everyone to read Goold’s chat from today – there was a lot of great info.)
Per Goold, trading Adams is possible but not imminent. As noted by MLB Trade Rumors, Jerry Crasnick stated that the Cardinals were willing to entertain offers on Adams in mid-December but there hasn’t been a lot of chatter since on that front. That could be the time of the year. Or, it could be that the Cardinals have had a tough time gaining traction on moving Adams since he doesn’t have the most unique skillset in the world of baseball. (UPDATE: Or, the Royals are/were interested.)
Tough to find Adams regular playing time, tough (so far) to trade. And all of this is unfolding while Adams is reportedly in the process of getting into the best shape of his life™. (It is the time for resolutions, after all.) Here’s Brian Stull of St. Louis Baseball Weekly:
Matt Adams was one of several St. Louis Cardinals players who attended the Winter Classic, although fans may not have recognized him as easily. The first baseman shared that he has lost around 25lbs this off-season, thanks in part to a new training regiment.
Adams has stayed in St. Louis this off-season and has been working out at the stadium with the team yoga/pilates instructor Kim Wallis and strength coach Pete Prinzi. Some days, the schedule has included two or even three pilates sessions.
Excited for the upcoming season, Adams also assured that he has not lost any strength during this process, noting that his swing is actually measuring better in tests.
The last part is important, if true. In just under 1,500 career plate appearances, Adams has slugged .455 and .480 off of righties. It’s the marquee feature of his game, and even if he’s not getting regular playing time it’s a nice boost off the bench. And it’s necessary to his profile if they still hope to trade him. As mentioned, Adams’s skillset is not unique but MLB Trade Rumors projects that he’s likely to make around $2.8 million in 2017 in his second year of arbitration eligibility. That’s pretty good value and would ideally be attractive to a team carrying an excess of outfield depth.