The Cardinals decided to let Kolten Wong walk this offseason. They didnt want to pick up his club option that would have paid him $12.5 million in 2021. Contracts of other players such as Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter are likely a big reason why the club felt paying a rather steep price for a second baseman with just two seasons of WAR over 3 was not worth it. While his 2020 shortened season numbers were not impressive he still leaves a void in the Cardinals lineup that has to be filled. Internal options Tommy Edman and Edmund Sosa will likely get the first shot. There are external options that may be affordable and impactful.
Enrique Hernandez, 29, 1.1 WAR (2020)
The Cardinals are one of the worst teams in baseball against left-handed pitching over the last two seasons. St. Louis had just an OPS of .713 in 2020 against southpaws. Enter in Kiki Hernandez. A long time lefty smasher, Hernandez has been a vital bench player for the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers since 2014. He carries a career OPS of .820 versus lefties and tons of versatility on top of that.
Hernandez will be a cheaper option to Wong as he is projected to sign for just around $6 million a year. Adding a player that can play multiple positions and provide some pop to a lineup that lacks consistent power options would be an answer to a few of the St. Louis offensive problems.
Johnathan Villar, 30, -0.3 (2020), 4.0 (2019)
Villar had a disastorous 2020, there is no other way around it. Cashing in on this would be advantageous to anyone willing to take a shot on the veteran. Villar brings instant offense to any team with his speed and power. Villar had the best season of his career in 2019 hitting 24 homers and stealing 40 bases. He had his second highest career OBP at .339.
Villar is a high-risk, high reward option that will be cheap. His ability to switch hit is also a great value for late game moves.
Tommy LaStella, 32, 3.2 WAR (2020)
Tommy LaStella not being signed yet is a great example of the ridiculous nature of MLB free agency at the moment. A veteran player that has hit at an all-star level over the last two seasons is still sitting on the market without much of an idea on where he will be next season.
LaStella has had two straight seasons with a WRC+ over 120. In 2020 LaStella ranked 25th overall in the league in OBP (.370). He would fit very nicely into the leadoff spot that was vacated by Wong. While he doesn’t have the speed that Wong brings to the table his ability to get on base could set up very nicely for Paul Goldschmidt. An inability to consistently hit lefties has hampered LaStella’s overall numbers but the Cardinals could easilit platoon him with Tommy Edman, allowing for a solid bat to be used later on in the game.