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Monday Mailbag: Thoughts on Bryce Harper, Free Agency, and the Mike Shildt Effect

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Our first mailbag of the offseason!

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2018 Major League Baseball season officially over, as the Boston Red Sox won the World Series on Sunday night, we’ll dive in to some of your mailbag responses today - and set the call for the next batch! You can comment here, write a Fanpost, or contact me directly to submit your thoughts.

Bryce Harper Question

13 years, $400 million….too much? Reasonable? Any chance?

Equates to $30.7 AAV

(The user went on to mention two opt-outs, perhaps after the third and sixth years.)

Posted by The Unbreakable 511 on Oct 22, 2018 | 12:04 PM

I think that is a very reasonable deal, considering the bidding is (reportedly) set to start around 10 years and $350 million. As much as I would enjoy the Cardinals to land such a young, star-studded player with polished tools all the way around, I just don’t see it happening. We know how this front office operates, and it would be pretty out of character for them to shell out this kind of contract. I will add: the Cardinals’ likelihood of making this deal would certainly be greater if there wasn’t already a logjam in the outfield. With Marcell Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, and Tyler O’Neill already there - and the team probably having a hard time moving them (either just not wanting to or unable to clear that much salary), I don’t expect a Harper press conference to be held in St. Louis this winter.

These are often separate markets. Teams that don’t sign Harper or Machado aren’t going to suddenly be in the market for a 2 win RFer or 3B.

Maybe Donaldson would be a fallback for some team that misses out on Machado, but few team will be serious bidders on those 2. Last year some players tried to “wait out the market” and what they and their agents realized, finally, was…”oh, I guess teams just don’t want to pay $80M for an average 3B on the wrong side of 30 with a crappy OBP”…or “oh, I guess teams don’t want to spend $50M for a ‘closer’ that wasn’t so great last year and hasn’t been for a few years now.”

Demand for mediocrity is going to remain low since pretty much all teams realize they can get nearly the same production with guys they already have in the minors without paying $10-15M/year for an average guy that is past his prime. Those days are over. The market for middling players should move fast because only so many team regard them as upgrades, so you better cash in before that demand dries up.

Posted by Paper Lions on Oct 23, 2018 | 10:13 AM

Send it out Mo, I say

It should be a very interesting offseason. The market will likely, unfortunately, move quite slowly. Doubt the FA’s below Harper and Machado sign early as they’ll wait out the losers of sweepstakes to enter into their own bidding. And Machado and Harper may wish to wait each other out. Set the bar. One wouldn’t want to sign for $300M and a week later see their counterpart ink for $100M excess. Pitching will likely be the early signings and offense will take a while to develop.

Posted by Woolkins on Oct 22, 2018 | 6:04 PM

Smart mention of the pitching front. With Harper and Machado stealing the attention of many, we neglect to appreciate the pitching that is available. Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel highlight the starters market, with Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, David Robertson, and Andrew Miller on the relief side.

I’d be nervous about waiting out the market after last year’s offseason

Posted by BFR44 on Oct 22, 2018 | 7:05 PM

Ha, good point. Needing a spring camp to accommodate such a large number of remaining unsigned players is concerning.

Another Bryce Harper question

Can Bryce pitch? Can he close? Can he hit for everybody else when they slump? If the answer is no then we don’t need him.

Posted by XxSoulFlyxX on Oct 22, 2018 | 6:19 PM

the answer is yes

Posted by rotervogel on Oct 22, 2018 | 6:44 PM

I’ll leave the Harper talk at this, although you’ll want to scan the comments for a memorable feature from jdog55.

Bullpen deployment

Any thoughts on whether the Cardinals should change the way they deploy their bullpen? Teams like the Brewers and Rays are making the Cardinals look positively antiquated with how they are doing away with set roles and deploying their best arms in the highest leverage situations. Starting games with a reliever to get through the first few batters before bringing a starter in. I’d like to see more of this form of experimentation, would anyone else?

Posted by Gyde Lund on Oct 22, 2018 | 12:10 PM

I’m with you on this. We’ll talk a bit more down the winding road of the offseason about how the Cardinals might do something like this. If manager Mike Shildt was able to pull a new trend like this off successfully, it would chalk up to another radical difference between him and Mike Matheny, even though they worked together for many, many ballgames.

This might get me some backlash here

But I would be interested in some numbers breakdown from the good, capable ppl here at VEB to support/debunk the following “conspiracy theories”:

1) The Cardinals seemed to surge almost immediately after Shildt was named interim manager and seemingly collapsed the day he was extended.

2) Fowler’s on-field performance in tandem with the social media brouhahas early in the season – chicken, egg, or coincidence?

Posted by Shloz on Oct 24, 2018 | 11:11 AM

I can’t speak much on the social media (haha!) but I can give you some numbers to use as you compare the team’s performance pre- and post-extension.

7/15-8/26: 26-12 record, a team slash of .266/.339/.446 with 52 home runs and 195 total runs scored. A 3.36 team ERA with a 296:140 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 337 23 innings.

8/28-9/30 15-16 record, a team slash of .241/.317/.394 with 37 home runs and 157 total runs scored. A 4.45 team ERA with a 272:134 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 277 13 innings.