The needs of the St. Louis Cardinals are obvious to most that watched the 2021 version. Edmundo Sosa and Paul Dejong felt like fillers for a position of need at shortstop. The offseason free agent market will allow for multiple options in one of the greatest free agent markets of all time for the position. The Cardinals could go aftera number of great players, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Corey Seager or Javy Baez. Adding a shortstop along with another starting pitcher should be the #1 objective for the Cards in the offseason but they also could look at trying to add some depth on the bench as well as some help with the pitching staff. Here are five of my favorite underrated potential signings.
Eduardo Escobar, Utility, (2.4 WAR)
I feel like I have been writing about Eduardo Escobar for a few years now. Escobar had another solid year with 28 homers and .786 OPS. He has the ability to play multiple positions and plays literally every position on the field. He is a switch hitter that can bat in any part of the lineup.
St. Louis is in desperate need of a power bat off the bench and Escobar fits the build. He can play second base and move Tommy Edman over to shortstop, you can still have an impactful bat in the lineup if Arenado or Goldschmidt need a day off, or just have a veteran on the bench. He is a switch hitter that can bat in any part of the lineup.
Escobar was having a great year in Arizona but saw a major dip in his numbers when traded to Milwaukee. His end of the year slump will make him extremely affordable, his versatility makes him the perfect fit for most teams and immediately improves the Cardinals bench.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, (3.4 WAR)
Stroman quietly had a great season in 2021. After sitting out 2020, he started 33 games for the underachieving Mets. He was top ten in the league with a 3.02 ERA, he also included a 1.15 WHIP. He included his top strikeout percentage in his career with a 21% K rate.
At just 30 years old he still has a lot of productive years ahead of him. Stroman has shown the ability to be a top of the rotation guy in his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, he also excelled as the #1 option for team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Stroman is an innings eater that can compete for a top spot in the rotation. The Cardinals could get him for an affordable rate at around 4-years, $100 million.
Kendall Graveman, RHP, (1.3 WAR)
Graveman converted to the bullpen full time in 2021. He saw an increase in fastball velocity to an average of 96 mph and added a slider that got him up to a 27% K rate. Graveman was surprisingly traded to the eventual American League champion Houston Astros after dominating for the Mariners in 30 games. During his time with Seattle, Graveman had 10 saves, with a 0.82 ERA and a .69 WHIP.
The Cardinals bullpen was one of the highlights most of the season. Additions of journeymen TJ McFarland and Luis Garcia helped carry a load of young pitchers that were overused during the 2021 season. St. Louis will get Jordan Hicks back next season to go along with TJ McFarland, Genesis Cabrera, Kodi Whitley and Closer, Gio Gallegos. The Cardinals will give Alex Reyes a chance to be in the starting rotation next year which means adding at least one power reliever. Graveman would give St. Louis a solid arm that can go multiple innings and give relief to their young arms. If he needs to be put in the closer spot, he can do it, if needed to pitch the 6th, he can do it, if he needs to open and go three innings, he can do it.
Michael Conforto, OF, (2.9 WAR)
St. Louis has the outfield basically spoken for. The combination of Tyler O’Neil, Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson was as good as you can ask for in developing players. The fourth outfielder all season was a rotating door of instability. Justin Williams, Austin Dean and Lars Nootbar all had their chances but didn’t do enough to solidify their roster spot for next season. The Cardinals need to find a reliable bat that can step right into the lineup and make an impact. With young players, you get inconsistency, the Cardinals need to add a player that can realistically be a starter. Also someone that hits with power from the left side would be nice. What about Michael Conforto?
Conforto is coming off a few injury plagued seasons. His injuries could see him forced into taking a “prove it” deal with a contender. The Cardinals could realistically offer him a chance to get at bats against tough righties as well should versatility producing in a bench role. If the DH is implemented into the National League next year, he could get a full allotment of at bats. In 7 seasons Conforto has a career OBP of .354 and a career OPS over .800. As recently as 2019 he hit 33 homers for a Mets team that provided little protection for him. Imagine putting him in front or behind Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.