Where the Cardinals stand entering the winter meetings

Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings start today as front office executives, agents, and players descend on Orlando, Florida, for four days of meetings that will culminate in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. Not only is this where the MLB offseason typically heats up, but nearly the entire league has been standing still, waiting while Giancarlo Stanton decided where he would play in 2018. With his trade to the Yankees complete, look for things to be pretty active as teams should look to quickly move to fill their needs.

For the Cardinals, there were two main priorities that John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch laid out earlier this offseason. Here is where they stand in those pursuits and what to look for this week. And as I did during the GM Meetings last month, look for my daily notebook with links to all the Cardinals related reports worth reading.

Closer and additional relief help. The Cardinals agreed to terms with RHP Luke Gregerson last night in a deal that was hopefully just the first step towards filling this need. According to GM Michael Girsch, the Cardinals were hoping to bring in multiple relievers this season, beginning with an established reliever and there are a few at the top of the market in Wade Davis and Greg Holland. The Cardinals were linked with interest in Holland shortly after the season ended, but since then we’ve heard little to support that connection. There’s been little talk or action in the relief market period.

It appears like the Tampa Bay Rays will be active sellers this week and the Cardinals and Rays have discussed closer Alex Colome since the summer and have touched base a few times. Those talks will likely intensify, especially if the rumored interest of the Chicago Cubs is true. Colome is the most obvious trade target, in my opinion as Baltimore seems to think they’ve got a chance in the AL East this year.

On the free agent market, Derrick Goold is reporting that there seemed to be momentum towards a deal with Addison Reed at one point this winter, but the slow relief pitching market seems to have shelved it. Reed could wait to see what guys like Holland and Davis pull in before pulling the trigger on a deal.

Middle of the order hitter. With Giancarlo Stanton officially off the market after he declined a trade to St. Louis and joined the New York Yankees, the pickings here are pretty slim. The Blue Jays are reportedly not planning to trade Josh Donaldson, nor are the Orioles expected to consider dealing Manny Machado. Either would be an obvious target for the Cardinals. Outside of them, there is really no obvious answer here. Only lesser options.

The Cardinals could always leverage their existing talks with the Marlins to pursue another of their outfielders. Christian Yelich will likely get kept, but Marcell Ozuna is very much available and the Cardinals’ interest in him has been reported.

Another intriguing Marlin may be Justin Bour. He’s more of a platoon style first baseman, but he’s hit 63 home runs in 327 games over the past three seasons while hitting .272/.344/.498. He’d pair nicely with Jose Martinez at first base.

There was a suggestion made that the Diamondbacks, who are in a tight financial situation, may have interest in trading A.J. Pollock who is projected to make over $8 million in arbitration. It’s been an injury plagued career for Pollock, but in his last full season he was an All Star, won a Gold Glove in center field, and posted a 131 wRC+.

In free agency, there has been interest in Eric Hosmer reported. The national baseball media will inevitably link the Cardinals with JD Martinez, though I expect he will get a deal he has no ability to live up to.

It was also reported around the GM Meetings last month that the club had made an offer to Logan Morrison, though Morrison remains a free agent.

Starting pitching. Conveniently enough, Mozeliak indicated this the third priority that they’d look at after addressing the first two. But it was the first move they made, signing RHP Miles Mikolas to a two year deal out of Japan. That signing gives them a projected rotation of Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Luke Weaver, and Mikolas. That rotation still has questions and finding more innings is a concern.

There’s really only one guy in that rotation you can reasonably expect to throw 180+ innings this season without a problem, and that’s Martinez. There’s the health of Wacha and Wainwright that present big questions as well as the need to build Weaver up to the demands of a MLB starting pitcher. I think having another guy you can bank on having throw 180+ innings is a must if this team intends to make a run this year.

With the Rays selling, Chris Archer will be the name on everyone’s lips this week. With three straight 200 inning seasons, he could benefit greatly from a step out of the American League East. I also like Jake Odorizzi from the Rays as a good value pickup here, but even he has questions.

In free agency, I am not in support of pursuing Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. Both have seen their numbers decline year-to-year the past few seasons. Arrieta is on the wrong side of 30 and Darvish had a rough year in his first full season back from Tommy John. Basically here, Lance Lynn outperformed both of these guys last year, though he had the worst peripherals of them all. So I don’t see the point in bringing any of them in. Tyler Chatwood, who the Cubs signed, would have been a good solution here as well.

 

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