Good morning, Cardinals fans!
It’s another travel and work day for me – which are happening all too frequently on post days for me. That means you get an Open Thread! Well sort of. It’s more of a stream-of-consciousness piece with an appeal for your contributions!
It’s the perfect day for that kind of blatant fan/writer speculation here on the site. The Cardinals are winging off to sunny San Diego as you read this for the annual baseball swap meet that is the Winter Meetings.
The meetings will last from Sunday through Wednesday and I suspect there will be quite a bit of activity. The Cardinals have made their intentions clear:
They want a starting catcher.
They want a left-handed bat that can play a “significant” role in the offense. (I.e. replace Pujols.)
They want some swing-and-miss stuff in their bullpen.
It’s possible they could also splash around in the starting pitcher market, in either one of two comfortable pools. Jose Quintana, a known and trusted commodity, could return. And/or the Cardinals could bring in an arm from overseas to fill a swing role.
I don’t expect all of that to happen this week. I do expect something to happen this week.
Today, you have the floor. And speculation is your friend. Your VEB writing team has given their opinions on moves, positions of need, and areas to ignore this off-season. Now you can weigh in yourself.
What do you want the Cardinals to do this week?
What do you expect the Cardinals to do this week?
Give me your predictions in the comments. I’ll go ahead and give you mine here.
Winter Meetings Prediction: The Cardinals will trade Nolan Gorman, Gordon Graceffo, and Joshua Baez to the Oakland A’s for Sean Murphy.
This was my preferred move when the offseason started. I gave up on it for a while because of the high cost. I instead tinkered around with Toronto and their two catchers: Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen. In the end, though, the Murphy move is the most straightforward. It’s costly but there’s a clear path to getting it done as the A’s desires and the Cardinals’ assets line up really well.
That can’t be said of Toronto. The Blue Jays both want and need a lefty outfielder. That’s either Lars Nootbaar or if they want to get creative, Nolan Gorman. They also want a reliable back-end starter. The Cardinals have that with players ranging from Dakota Hudson to Jake Westbrook or Andre Pallante.
Alejandro Kirk is probably worth a deal that includes Nootbaar and an arm (likely Hudson).
Easy, right? No, because I’m not convinced that the Cardinals want Kirk. His defense is fine but how well will he age? How’s his arm? He just doesn’t seem like the kind of catcher the Cardinals would go for.
More importantly, I’m not convinced that Kirk is available. All the Jay’s trade smoke is circling Danny Jansen. Moving Jansen and keeping Kirk makes a ton of sense for a team that’s still trying to compete in the AL East.
From the Cardinals’ perspective, Jansen should be a relatively easy player to work a trade for, which is why I’ve played around with that idea for a month. The problem is I can’t work one out that fits the needs and desires of both teams.
Nootbaar (and even more so for Gorman) are worth more than Jansen. To get the lefty outfielder they want, the Blue Jays would have to give up Jansen and one other significant piece. I can’t find that piece on their roster. There are a few bullpen arms that maybe fit, but they don’t have the value to balance the trade or the arm profile the Cardinals need.
The alternative is that the Cardinals take a prospect in the deal or the Blue Jays accept Alec Burleson instead. Both of those are a possibility, but either team would have to settle for something that doesn’t fully solve their roster problems. The Cardinals would just flip to Christian Vazquez instead.
So, with that nod to Vazquez, I’ve circled back around to Murphy.
On Wednesday I gave 50/30/10% odds to Christian Vazquez, Danny Jansen, and Sean Murphy. Now, Friday morning, I would go 40% Vazquez, 30% Murphy, and 20% Jansen.
What Murphy does is add a notable bat to their lineup and lock the catcher position up with a high-quality defensive player for the foreseeable future. When the Cardinals have had the opportunity to snag an impact position player at a position of need through trade, like Jason Heyward, Marcel Ozuna, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado, they’ve been willing to pull the trigger.
I see this as the same situation. With some measure of present and future uncertainty at 2b, SS, and CF I don’t see the Cardinals being comfortable with uncertainty at C, too. The adage of “production up the middle” still holds.
Beyond that, I have no predictions for you. Only a suggestion: think creatively.
The Cardinals have needs on their roster. They might also have solutions on their roster. What they have in spades is uncertainty. That applies to the outfield, all but the corners of the infield, and the entire starting rotation. John Mozeliak and the Cards could shuffle some uncertainty out to clear up their current roster overflow while adding more certainty for the long haul.
What does that look like? It could be a trade of Jack Flaherty – something Jeff Jones suggested in the BND this week. It could be moving on from Tyler O’Neill. It could be any number of other things I haven’t imagined yet.
I guess that’s the point. Beyond the obvious move for a catcher, it’s hard to imagine what the Cards will do. But they will do something.
The Cardinals have shown the ability to do that… once or twice in the last few seasons. It’s not a skill they have. But it might be a necessity now.
It’s time for them to put all that analytic ability to work and find the right solutions to solidify their roster for the next few seasons.
That’s all I’ve got. The rest is up to you. Fill up that comment section with your trade suggestions, free-agent signings, and other moves for this coming week!
We’ll have coverage as usual as things break.
And make sure to check in on Wednesday when Jeff Jones joins us from the Winter Meetings on the VEB podcast. Hopefully, he’ll have news to break!
Have a happy Saturday, Viva El Birdos!