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Non-Tenders Flood Market with Mediocrity

A fresh group of intriguing but not very productive players were added to the free agent market yesterday.

Colorado Rockies v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images


Of the recent non-tenders, who should the Cardinals target?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Eddie Rosario
    (222 votes)
  • 21%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (187 votes)
  • 3%
    Travis Shaw
    (29 votes)
  • 6%
    Adam Duvall
    (60 votes)
  • 8%
    Maikel Franco
    (73 votes)
  • 12%
    Hunter Renfroe
    (104 votes)
  • 22%
    David Dahl
    (191 votes)
866 votes total Vote Now

The contract-tender deadline for arbitration and pre-arbitration players came and passed last night with a score of new players entering free agency. With the financial crisis across baseball, the expectation was that teams would be more aggressive in cutting ties with quality players who were due for significant raises in arbitration. That’s exactly what happened.

The Cardinals contributed two players to the fray by non-tendering John Brebbia and Rangel Ravelo.

Brebbia was a reliable right-handed middle relief arm for the Cardinals and should find his way onto a major league roster in the future, assuming a successful recovery from Tommy John. He may return to the club on a non-roster rehab deal. Let’s take a moment to appreciate what he’s given the Cardinals:

Ravelo suffered a lost season when he came down with COVID and doesn’t have upside to justify a continued spot on the roster. Especially with the club also carrying John Nogowski and Elehuris Montero.

Roster space is more of an issue than increasing salaries with both non-tendered players. The Cardinals entered the day with 39 players on their 40-man roster after the recent additions ahead of the Rule 5 draft.

The roster is now down to 37 with Dakota Hudson certain to head to the 60-day IL. That’s enough space to add Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, if the club wants to bring them back, and make a couple of upgrades.

It’s a good bet a future addition could come from the new list of non-tenders.

Ben Cerutti – who gets two well-deserved mentions in this article – was kind enough to throw the non-tenders (and recent DFA’s) into a sortable Fangraph’s leaderboard. Peruse at your leisure!

I’m going to rely on his leg work and point out some players I think the Cardinals might be interested in. I’m limiting my targets to power-hitting outfielders, focusing primarily on left-handed batters, and third base options. The players are listed by career fWAR.

I’ve even included a poll above.

Feel free to argue for your own choice in the comments section below.

Cincinnati Reds v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

EDDIE ROSARIO – Age: 29, Bats/Throws: L/R, OF

Rosario has been a consistent producer for the Twins. In six seasons in Minnesota, he has 119 HRs and 11.4 fWAR. His wRC+ is steadily in the 105-115 range, with ISO’s in the low .200s. Rosario doesn’t walk much but he makes a surprising amount of contact for a player with a power-oriented profile. Defensively, Rosario can’t play center anymore, but he can still hold his own in the corner outfield. He struggles against left-handed pitchers and would be a platoon player.

Why would the Cardinals want him? He’s a productive and consistent power hitter who bats left-handed. That’s something the Cardinals don’t have in their outfield. The question is whether the Cardinals would want to push Fowler and O’Neill out of a starting spot to pay a 1.5-2.0 WAR player.

Wild Card Round - Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs - Game Two Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

KYLE SCHWARBER – Age: 27, Bats/Throws: L/R, OF

Cardinals fans love to talk about what Kyle Schwarber isn’t. He hasn’t lived up to his prodigious hype upon arrival. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a quality player. In ’18 and ’19, Schwarber produced fWARs of 3.2 and 2.6. He’s a lock for 30+ home runs, provided he stays relatively healthy. He can draw walks. His K rate is acceptable for his power and on-base potential. He’s not an inspiring defender, but if the Cardinals can survive with Marcel Ozuna and Dexter Fowler roaming the corners, they can handle Schwarber out there. Plus, the DH is likely to return. And they do need a catcher. Just saying…

Why would the Cardinals want him? He can hit for power and draw walks. He has a legitimate talent with the bat. To be honest, the Cardinals are in desperate need of hitting talent. Schwarber would make them better and would only cost a short-term commitment and a few million bucks.

TRAVIS SHAW – Age: 30, Bats/Throws: L/R, 3B

Yeah, that’s how fast this list devolves from “meh” into “ugh” territory. Travis Shaw would have been an interesting option for third base a few years ago. In ’18, Shaw had 3.6 fWAR and 32 homers with a 13% walk rate. In 2019, Shaw collapsed, producing a negative fWAR and an appalling 47 wRC+. He bounced back some in ’20, but was still far below his former levels of production. Still, he’s been a productive third baseman in the past and he’s not so old that there’s no hope of him recovering something of his former self.

Why would the Cardinals want him? They probably wouldn’t. At this point, the difference between Matt Carpenter and Shaw is pretty marginal. They both bat left-handed, so they can’t be used to complement each other. The Cardinals need someone to play third. I suspect they’ll look elsewhere.

ADAM DUVALL – Age: 32, Bats/Throws: R/R, OF

All Duvall does is hit home runs. He had 16 last season in just 209 plate appearances. In 2019 he had 10 in just 130 PAs. Over that span, his ISO was near .300. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Duvall isn’t really an everyday player. He has a pretty heavy platoon split. He has been an acceptable defender in the outfield but those abilities are starting to slip as he has climbed into his 30s. He hasn’t been worth more than .7 fWAR in a single season since 2017.

Why would the Cardinals want him? I could see Duvall sliding into the roster spot occupied by Rangel Ravelo. He would be a good option at DH (assuming it returns) to platoon with Matt Carpenter and the club could play him in the outfield some. It doesn’t seem likely the club or Duvall would go for that arrangement.

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

MAIKEL FRANCO – Age: 28, Bats/Throws: R/R, 3B

Franco has been a slightly better-than-replacement-level corner infielder for the Phillies and Royals. Franco has some power – averaging between 22-25 homers per season from ’16-’18. He hit 8 last year in just 243 PAs. His walk rate isn’t inspiring, but he does make solid contact. Defensively, he’s been at times bad, but he’s been trending up. He’s close to neutral the last two seasons.

Why would the Cardinals want him? Franco isn’t very good but the Cardinals don’t really have a third baseman at the moment. Sure, Carpenter can play there but his offense is collapsing and there’s little reason to believe his back and his defense can hold up at age 35. The club needs a stopgap player as a bridge to Gorman. Franco fits as a no-risk, cheap option with a tiny bit of offensive upside if you squint hard enough.

HUNTER RENFROE – Age: 28, Bats/Throws: R/R, OF

Renfroe has exceptional power, with a career ISO of .257. He’s the answer to the question “what if Tyler O’Neill actually hit a lot of HRs?” His walk rate has been steadily climbing – now projecting to 8.4% in 2021. However, Renfroe had a terrible year in ’20. His wRC+ was just 76, down from 98 in ’19 and 114 in ’18. He hit just .156. His BABIP tanked, but it didn’t come with a collapse of exit velocity, so he’s a solid bounce-back candidate.

Why would the Cardinals want him? They wouldn’t. I should stop there. Like Duvall, it’s possible (though extremely unlikely) that the Cards will consider right-handed power hitters to partner with Carpenter if the DH returns. He could also push Dexter Fowler. That’s all I got. He hits for power so he makes this list.

MLB: AUG 17 Rockies at Astros Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

DAVID DAHL – Age: 26, Bats/Throws: L/R, OF

Dahl was the most talked-about name by Cardinals fans and writers on Twitter last night. He is a former first-round pick. He’s relatively young. He has some impressive stats in the recent past, including a .302/.353/.524 line in ’19. That .364 wOBA translated into just a 110 wRC+ and came with a .386 BABIP. What about that looks repeatable outside of Coors? 2018 was more reasonable – a .311 BABIP produced a .357 wOBA and a 110 wRC+, but much of that was built on a 23.2 HR/FB rate that he’s never shown before and will not show outside of Colorado. Last year was a lost season for him with a shoulder injury. He had a 10 wRC+ in 99 PAs. Yikes.

Why would the Cardinals want him? Dahl has some talent as a former first-round bat. He’s a left-handed outfielder who has some production in his history but huge questions about whether or not that production will return or translate outside of Colorado. He’s still relatively young. I could see the Cardinals partnering him with O’Neill as the ultimate outfield coin flip. Dahl and O’Neill could be a productive duo. Or they could be a disaster.