An impact bat, someone that can strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers, a player to build your lineup around. These were the comments most associated with the St. Louis Cardinals heading into the offseason. A team that has the ancillary pieces to win but lacked the true star that can change an organization. Enter Paul Goldschmidt, the silent assassin that has been hidden in the desert. St. Louis was able to make a deal for the perrennial MVP for a catcher that was not going to play for two years, a pitcher that was 9th on the depth chart and player that feels like the last resort throw in Brad Pitt and Jonah hill were looking for in Moneyball. Now that the power bat has been added its time to move on to the next step. Cardinals fans don’t want Mo and Girsch to settle. Let’s look at some different scenarios that could happen.
Dream Scenario-Sign Bryce Harper, Craig Kimbrel and find a suitor for Dexter Fowler.
The Cardinals still have a need for a left-handed swinging outfielder that they can rely on for the upcoming season. Currently the projected bench consists of Yairo Munoz, Jedd Gyroko, Jose Martinez, Dexter Fowler/Tyler O’neil and whomever the backup catcher will be. That is a litany of right handed bats to go along with the switching hitting Fowler. The need for a left-handed swinging outfielder is obvious. Enter Bryce Harper, the most decorated of potential free agent signings could fit right into a lineup in need of left-handed depth. The endless ways that this lineup could be constructed with bats like Goldy, Carp, Harper and Ozuna would be a murderers row of potential OPS. dominance.
Lets be realistic in the idea that after the season someone will have to walk. Try and lock up Harper for 10year/$350,000 deal with a player option after four years. You then proceed to let Marcell Ozuna walk after the 2019 season and take more of your finances to lock up Goldschmidt for 3-4 years at about $25 million a year. While that is a lot of money attributed to two players, you have to take into account that Yadier Molina’s $20 million a year will be coming off the books in 2020.
Next you get Craig Kimbrel, the model of consistency over the last decade to be your close, eat the money for Dexter Fowler and hopefully find a suitor willing to take him on just to cut him loose. All of a sudden you have filled every hole your team has with the premium player that those positions.
Nightmare Scenario- Cards do nothing to build on their momentum.
This is a simple answer, if the Cardinals front office decides that the bullpen is complete, the struggles to finish off games will continue. The great offense that Goldschmidt will provide could be negated because Jordan Hicks has been overused for the week. While bringing in an accomplished closer is not a walk in the park, the Cardinals may still be burned by their most recent moves in free agency to bolster their bullpen. Memories of the Brett Cecil and Greg Holland contract are still haunting Mozeliak, so Andrew Miller and Craig Kimbrel may be to much for him.
If Dexter Fowler is still in the plans for the Cardinals they are banking on a player that had a historically bad season entering his age 33 season.
Realistic Scenario- Extend Mikolas, add reliever and lefty bench player.
Miles Mikolas doesn’t bring the flash of a high-level starter. He doesn’t have the Carlos Martinez stuff or the youth of Jack Flaherty. What he brings is a vital ability to todays game that has gotten lost in the emergence of the bullpen era. Mikolas is an innings eater that relies on pitching to contact and being efficient. He will lead the team in innings pitched next year (barring injury) and will save innings for your core bullpen arms. Lock him up and throw away the key.
Signing Tony Sipp should be the next move that completes the bullpen. Allow your relievers to work out who the closer will be going into next season and solidify the left side. Sipp not only held lefties to a .191BA last season but also held a 0.90ERA in Minute Maid Park! With Anthony Rizzo and Christian Yelich being the premiere players on your opposition Sipp would be the perfect addition to a staff that is unproven to say the least from the left side.
Bryce Harper makes a lot of sense, but the addition of Goldschmidt will be the move that Mozeliak will justify over spending more for Harper. Adding Micheal Brantley would be ideal after the pickup of Goldy, but to live more realistic I could see a reclamation project like Matt Joyce or a proven bench player like Gerardo Parra. While these are sexy options they could fit the need of a lefty handed bat in the outfield. Sadly though I see a platoon of Fowler/O’Neil coming into the season.
Finally, they need to trade Jose Martinez to an American League club. He brings limited power and basically zero defense from your bench. He was great in 2018 but there is no where for him to go from here.
Thanks and let me hear your opinions.