Rumor Check: Jake Arrieta

Earlier this week there was a report from CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine that the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the two teams most interested, along with the Chicago Cubs, in signing free agent RHP Jake Arrieta.

On the surface, it sounds like a good move. I’ve been arguing for a year that the Cardinals have a big hole in their 2018 rotation and how they will fill innings. But the Cubs are also reported to be willing to offer a 4 year, $110 million deal to Arrieta to bring him back to the Windy City, and that’s more than I can stomach for him.

Arrieta, 31, is coming off a year where he posted a 3.53 ERA and 4.16 FIP in 168.1 innings over 30 starts for the Cubs last season. It was his worst season since joining the Cubs following a trade from the Orioles during the 2013 season. He did miss some time in September with a groin injury.

He hits free agency after posting a 2.73 ERA and 3.16 FIP over 191 starts for the Cubs over four and a half seasons.

Arrieta’s turnaround upon arrival in Chicago is well storied. A 2.53 ERA in 25 starts in 2014 and then a 1.77 ERA in 33 starts in 2015. But since then, Arrieta has seen his hit rate, home run, and walk rate jump while seeing a decline in his strikeout rate.

The question is whether this is just him coming back to earth or whether it’s decline. If it is him just coming back to earth, will he stop before he becomes the guy who posted a 5.46 ERA in 63 starts for the Orioles over three and a half years.

In my opinion, there are four top free agent pitchers in this year’s class. Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb along with Arrieta. Arrieta’s advantage is that he hasn’t had Tommy John in the last three years. But all still have red flags.

Darvish, 31, struggled last year, his first full season post-Tommy John surgery. He is now three years removed and his numbers post-TJ are nowhere near his numbers before it. The same goes for Cobb and Lynn, both 30.

If I’m honest, the outlook on any of the four do not enthuse me.

However, I’ve been onboard the Lance Lynn reunion train for a year now and I still see him as the best of this group of four. I enjoy seeing people who point out Lynn’s peripherals while expressing support for signing one of these other three pitchers, all of whom exhibit the same issues to varying extents. I’ve dug into Lynn’s peripherals and they don’t scare me because of how everything is interconnected and what I believe is the root cause, but this is an article on Jake Arrieta.

The question on Arrieta is who you’re going to get. The Arrieta we saw in 2016 (3.10 ERA, 197.1 innings) is probably worth $27.5 million. The Arrieta we saw in 2017 (3.53 ERA, 168.1 innings) is not. And I think it’s far more likely we see something closer to the 2017 version for most of the next four years.

I will say that four years is far more attractive to me than the six years that his agent Scott Boras is believed to be looking for. And in that regard, I think I can convince myself that such a deal would be acceptable. You get out from underneath it before it becomes too much of an issue with Arrieta getting old.

But, I still see the best option for another starting pitcher to be Tampa’s Chris Archer. He is clearly the best starting pitcher that could find himself available and he is young and on a very nice contract. Accordingly, he will cost a lot of prospects, which is why he hasn’t moved yet. Not while guys like Arrieta and Darvish are still free agents.

Rumor Check: Eric Hosmer

There’s been plenty of rumblings over the past few weeks about the Cardinals’ interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. Several reports have them interested in him as a fall back option if the Blue Jays will not relent on their decision to hold onto Josh Donaldson. This week we also have some suggested contract offer numbers. First came the Padres at 7 years, $140 million. Then came the Royals at 7 years, $147 million.

Hosmer, 28, reached free agency for the first time this winter after hitting .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs and 135 wRC+ while playing in all 162 games, starting 155 of those at first base. Durability is a big factor for Hosmer, who has played at least 150 games in five of the last six seasons. But he has also lacked consistency, having yet to post positive WAR seasons in back-to-back years.

The Cardinals do need to bring in another hitter, and Hosmer could potentially reflect a guy who could be that hitter. His 135 wRC+ ranked 25th in baseball. Bringing him in would give the Cardinals three of the top-25 players in wRC+ from 2017, joining him with Tommy Pham (148, 8th) and new acquisition Marcell Ozuna (142, 13th). That would tie them with the Astros and the Nationals with three a piece.

But is Eric Hosmer the player we saw in 2017 and is he worth the $147 million plus gamble it would take to bring him in?

Personally, I don’t think so.

Much of the debate on social media has centered in on the comparisons between Hosmer and Matt Carpenter. What becomes very obvious as you observe these debates is that the main problem is that the difference is not great enough to be obvious, otherwise there would be no debate. For example, nobody is having a debate on whether Donaldson is better than Jedd Gyorko.

Carpenter has outperformed Hosmer head-to-head in each of their full time seasons, except for the most recent, which was also a year that Carpenter played through a shoulder injury. Is that Carpenter on the decline or the younger Hosmer finally reaching his potential as he enters the prime years of his late 20s?

If you’re asking me who I’d rather give $147 million to over the next seven years, I probably choose Hosmer and cite age and Carpenter’s shoulder injury as the primary factors. But the reality is that that isn’t the choice. Carpenter is already under contract for 2 years, $30 million plus an option right now. It changes the math.

I always get push back when I suggest that Hosmer isn’t needed because the Cardinals already have Carpenter, Jose Martinez, and Luke Voit on the roster at first base. And while Hosmer might be better than any of those guys independently, I don’t see him as a big enough improvement to warrant spending that kind of money. Not only that, acquiring him makes Carpenter less valuable with a move to third base.

According to most defensive metrics, Carpenter was a neutral defensive first baseman while Hosmer defied his negative metrics and took home his second gold glove. My hypothesis for this is that Carpenter is generally an above average first baseman who makes some glaring errors, while Hosmer doesn’t make the glaring errors, but is generally not as good defensively. It produces the cognitive bias that makes the eye test tell you that Hosmer is the better defender.

But ultimately, that’s not the only part of the equation. Last season Jedd Gyorko was a +16 defensive runs saved at third base. In his last full season at third base, Carpenter was a -10 defensive runs saved. That’s a -26 run swing. Factor in the change at first base where Carpenter was a +1 and Hosmer was a -7, that’s a total -34 run swing on defense by bringing Hosmer in and moving Carpenter to third.

Offensively, the Carpenter-Gyorko combination had a total of 165 wRC (weighted Runs Created, not normalized) while a Hosmer-Carpenter combo would have produced 210, a swing of +45 runs created on offense.

So if you want to do a quick and ugly wouldn’t bank my house on it comparison the Cardinals would spend at least $147 million to bring in Hosmer and gain maybe a total of 11 runs.

And that’s while being somewhat optimistic that Hosmer can reproduce what he did last year on a regular basis. That brings me to my biggest flashing red light.

He played 131 games in 2014 with a 0 WAR and played 158 games in 2016 with a -0.1 WAR. He surrounded those years with 3+ WAR years, topping out last year with a career best 4.1 WAR. Are you going to get the 3+ WAR player or are you going to get the guy who plays everyday at a replacement level for $20+ million a year? As I said before, he has yet to post positive WAR seasons in back-to-back years. The Cardinals have plenty of guys capable of being replacement level players who would earn far less.

As a result, first base isn’t a viable option for upgrade when the best option is Eric Hosmer. Now, if Paul Goldschmidt or Joey Votto were a free agent, I’m onboard because they are elite bats who would clearly be an upgrade over what already exists on the roster.

Third base and shortstop still remain the Cardinals’ best opportunity for improvement in their everyday lineup. If the Cardinals were going to use Carpenter in a trade to land Donaldson (which I’ve been suggesting for almost a year now), I could support bringing in Hosmer.

But I don’t see how Hosmer not only fits with the Cardinals but makes them better off than they were before they signed him.

Common sense would dictate that you try to play your players where they are most valuable to you. For Carpenter, he is most valuable at first base. And Hosmer does not bring enough additional value to the table to make it worth moving him somewhere else.

Notebook: Winter Meetings, Day 3

With Ozuna watch concluding this morning as it was confirmed that the Marlins and Cardinals had agreed to a trade, we still don’t have all the details of the trade. Beyond that, there are a couple moves reportedly still being worked on, reportedly Mozeliak cancelled an interview tonight due to “escalating situations,” so it will be interested to see where things go.

Tomorrow will mainly feature the Rule 5 Draft, the closing event of the official winter meetings, with most front offices having packed up and headed home by that time. Last year, Mozeliak told us Wednesday night that he didn’t expect to get anything done and then agreed to terms with Dexter Fowler later that night and was introduced in St. Louis on Friday. So things can turn around in a moment.

Nicasio agrees to deal with Mariners

In ex-Cardinals news, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Seattle Mariners and RHP Juan Nicasio have agreed to terms on a two year deal. Nicasio posted a 2.61 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 76 appearances last year, his first full season working exclusively out of the bullpen. Nicasio, 31, was acquired by the Cardinals last September to serve as closer. He posted a 1.64 ERA and 1.00 WHIP and was 4-for-4 in saves over 9 appearances.

The Mariners and Cardinals were reportedly both in talks with him today in an effort to sign him, but it looks like the Cardinals lost out. The deal will be $17 million over 2 years.

Cardinals close to dealing Piscotty to the A’s

There were a few reports today that the Cardinals are close to finalizing a deal to send outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland A’s in exchange for potentially 2-3 prospects. One of the names consistently mentioned is utilityman Yairo Munoz. Munoz hit .300/.330/.464 last season with 13 home runs between AA and AAA while splitting time at shortstop, third base, and center field. He is rated their #13 prospect by

Rockies close to bringing Holland back

Jon Heyman is reporting that free agent closer Greg Holland is close to returning to the Colorado Rockies. Holland posted a 3.61 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with a league leading 41 saves for the Rockies last season. He declined a $15 million player’s option that could have paid him up to $21 million after incentives if he had duplicated his 2017 season.

The Cardinals were one of the teams reported as having interest in Holland earlier this offseason, but I believe they still prefer the Rays’ Alex Colome to any of the free agent options.

Cardinals still talking about additional relief options

Ken Rosenthal also reports that the Cardinals and the Rays are still in contact with the Tampa Bay Rays about Alex Colome. Prices of free agent relievers are soaring, so too is likely the trade price of an arbitration controlled option like Colome. Along with more teams becoming interested.

Orioles making progress on Machado trade

Brittany Ghiroli is reporting that the Orioles are making good progress on trading third baseman Manny Machado with more than five teams interested.

The Cardinals’ interest remains in the exploratory phase. GM Michael Girsch suggested that it wasn’t something they were likely to pursue, however Derrick Goold reported that Cardinals officials have met with the Orioles to determine what the asking price would be.

This may be a scenario where the Cardinals complete a trade with Tampa for an Alex Colome and/or Chris Archer and then take stock of where their farm system stands to see whether it makes sense for them to take the risk of trading for one year of Machado.

Notebook: Winter Meetings, Day 2

Day two of the Winter Meetings in the books in Orlando. A couple interesting things and the Cardinals might be about ready to do something.

Cardinals not expected to talk to Martinez

Derrick Goold told 590 The Fan’s The Morning After show this morning that he does not expect the Cardinals to much of a conversation with free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez. Martinez hit .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs this season between Detroit and Arizona. His agent, Scott Boras, is reportedly asking for a 7 year, $210 million deal.

Orioles shopping Machado

As reported by Ken Rosenthal at the The Athletic, the Baltimore Orioles have gone beyond simply listening on Manny Machado and are now actively shopping their 25 year old third baseman. Rosenthal also reports that Louis Angelos, the son of team owner Peter Angelos and the Ownership Representative, is personally involved in those discussions, perhaps lending to the seriousness of their intentions.

Machado hit .259/.310/.471 last season in his worst big league year since his rookie season. The previous two years he finished in top-5 in the voting for the American League MVP Award. He won two gold gloves at third base, but has reportedly requested to move back to shortstop next season to increase his value as a free agent, which he will become after 2018. The Cardinals can slide Paul DeJong back to third base to open up shortstop for Machado.

The Cardinals will be linked with any Machado pursuit, as the Cardinals need a middle of the order hitter and the Orioles need pitching help more than anything else. It seems like a match. However, after being burned on trading for a year of  Jason Heyward only to see him walk in free agency, will John Mozeliak be a little more gun shy about pursuing a rental like Machado?

Machado is projected to earn $17.3 million as a third year arbitration eligible player next season and he’s been in the same breath with Bryce Harper as far as guys who will be pursuing the $400 million mark in free agency next winter.

The question is how much a year of Machado is going to be worth in prospects. Rosenthal reports that the Orioles’ goal is to acquire two young, controllable starting pitchers. The Cardinals would seem to have the depth to meet that goal if necessary.

Cardinals are in on Davis

Their closer hunt continues with Jon Heyman reporting that the Cardinals are one of the teams in on Wade Davis. The Rockies and Cubs are also in on him. Davis, 32, posted a 2.30 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 32 saves last season for the Cubs. Davis has notched a 1.45 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over the past four seasons between the Royals and he Cubs.

MLB Trade Rumors projected a 4 year, $60 million deal for Davis.

Ozuna to the Cardinals might be close

Tonight Joe Frisaro, Miami’s reporter, is reporting that the Cardinals are the front runner for a Marcell Ozuna trade. He also reported that the offer is two of Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, and Sandy Alcantara as well as either Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuk.

Also tonight both John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch spoke optimistically about the potential of making a move soon. Most believe that they are talking about acquiring Ozuna. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweeted tonight that indications are that the Marlins will deal Ozuna soon.

Notebook: Winter Meetings, Day 1

Day one of the Winter Meetings is in the books with the headline clearly being the Giancarlo Stanton press conference. It was an otherwise slow day reinforcing things we pretty much already know.

Cardinals “aggressively” pursuing Colome

To break the ice this morning, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the St. Louis Cardinals and the Colorado Rockies were both aggressively pursuing Tampa Bay Rays closer Alex Colome. The news is of little surprise given that they’ve been connected to Colome since the summer. The Rockies may be the Cardinals’ toughest competition for Colome with the Chicago Cubs saying that their new addition Brandon Morrow will be the closer next season unless they are able to re-sign Wade Davis.

In return, the Rays would likely be looking for a corner outfielder that could pair long term with Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza. That would make the Cardinals and their depth of outfield talent a great match. Harrison Bader would give the Rays a very good defensive outfield at the very least.

Second base could also be a place they could upgrade, which could see Kolten Wong or Jedd Gyorko becoming available. Wong’s younger brother Kean Wong plays in the Rays organization, reaching Triple-A last season and delivering the game winning grand slam against the Memphis Redbirds in the Triple-A Championship Game.

Stanton reveals neither Cards nor Giants were on his list

Giancarlo Stanton was officially introduced as a member of the New York Yankees this afternoon and it revealed a great deal about the trade process. Neither the Cardinals nor Giants were on Stanton’s trade list that he provided the Marlins at the beginning offseason, however the Marlins pursued trades with them anyway. After it became clear that they were going to be able to get a larger return from those two franchises, they made an effort to force Stanton to accept the trade or be stuck in Miami.

Stanton met with the Giants and the Cardinals before ultimately deciding that they weren’t close enough to winning and weren’t a good fit for him and rejected the trades and effectively called the Marlins’ their bluff. He was then traded to the Yankees for far less than what they could have gotten from the Giants or Cardinals since they no longer had any leverage.

Cardinals are in on Ozuna

Jenifer Langosch reports that the Cardinals are pursuing Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who the Marlins say is more likely to be dealt than their other coveted outfielder Christian Yelich. Ozuna has two years of team control via arbitration remaining while Yelich has up to five years remaining on a team friendly guaranteed contract.

The difficulty here is that there are reports that Yelich is unhappy in Miami given what has happened and would like out while Ozuna has said that he would be happy to stay.

Athletics interested in Piscotty and Grichuk

Susan Slusser of the Bay Area Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s continue to have interest in Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk as they search for a right handed hitting outfielder. The Cardinals are believed to prefer to trade Piscotty to the Bay Area so that he can be closer to his family following his mother’s ALS diagnosis last year. But it is unclear what kind of return the Cardinals could expect.

Cardinals may add another starter

Derrick Goold is reporting that John Mozeliak has said that the Cardinals could add another starting this pitcher if the right situation came along. If the Rays were to make Chris Archer available, Goold believes that would qualify.

Rumor Mill: Shohei Ohtani

Major League Baseball today announced that their teams have ratified the new posting agreement between MLB and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. The maximum release fee (or posting fee) remains $20 million and a player, once posted, has 21 days to reach an agreement with a Major League Baseball team.

With that done, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters announced today that Shohei Ohtani will be posted today. That means that Ohtani has until December 22nd to secure a Major League deal.

At 23 years old, Ohtani will enter the Majors subject to the international bonus pool system. Teams have various amounts of money in their pools and some are under restriction. For example, the Texas Rangers have $3.535 million in their pool, which is the most of any team at this point. The Cardinals are currently under penalty for exceeding their bonus pool last year and are only able to extend a signing bonus of $300,000.

But this decision appears to be about more than money for Ohtani.

Had Ohtani waited two more years, he would not have been subject to the international bonus pool system and would have been a free agent, able to sign a contract without any caps. Since it’s probably not about who can make him the highest dollar offer, there is really no excuse for every team in baseball to extend him an offer. 30 teams, 30 offers or fire your General Manager.

This past spring we talked about Luis Robert and the only other international prospect  that could be talked about in the same breath as him was Shohei Ohtani.

Despite being slowed by an ankle injury this season, Ohtani hit .332/.403/.540 with 8 home runs over 65 games as a hitter while posting a 3.20 ERA over 5 starts as a pitcher.

To get an idea of what he can do when healthy, in 2016 he hit .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs in 104 games as a hitter and had a 1.85 ERA in 21 games (20 starts, 1 relief appearance) as a pitcher.

While most believe his highest potential is as a pitcher, Ohtani wants to continue to play both ways. In my opinion, that’s why he’s coming now.

Consider that if Ohtani waits two years and signs the $200 million deal that many believe he could have scored had he waited, he is really making too much money for a team to get cute with. Think about how we all hold our breath every time Mike Matheny uses Carlos Martinez as a pinch runner. Now imagine if Martinez was playing the outfield a couple days a week.

By coming earlier, Ohtani costs the team less money and the potential lost value is not as high, which would allow him an opportunity to prove he can do it productively enough to be worth the risk.

But regardless of all of this it comes down to whether the Cardinals are or should be interested. Obviously, because I’m writing about this I think that they should. Mainly because the odds are good that he performs well enough to recapture the $20.3 million investment it would take to bring him in.

The Cardinals need both a starting pitcher and a hitter and Ohtani could help fill both needs by slotting into the rotation and then also playing the outfield a couple days a week.

The organization has also been showing evidence of thinking about how a two way player would work. I think back to the experiment with Jordan Schafer last spring while they considered using him both ways that ended when he got hurt. And bringing in Seung-hwan Oh to help him transition from the Japanese leagues to the United States.

The Cardinals missed on Luis Robert. The general sentiment seems that they will probably miss on Giancarlo Stanton. I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point, but the opportunity to sign a player with the potential that Ohtani has does not come around that often.

There isn’t much of anything out there that specifically links Ohtani to the Cardinals. Not like there really would be since John Mozeliak runs a quiet ship and keeps his cards close to his sweater vest.

However, they have said that they expected to explore the starting pitching market “later” in the winter. Why would they wait to start laying groundwork with starting pitchers they might have interest in? Unless they weren’t interested in anyone that was available yet and were mulling the pursuit of Ohtani. And if they could sign Ohtani, that would offset the loss of some of their young arms that might be traded away this winter.

I’m positive that they’ll check in on him because that’s what the Cardinals do. If nothing else, they should extend him their maximum offer and see what happens. Worst case scenario they finish second.

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 4

This is it. The final day of the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida. General Managers will return home and attempt to build on the face-to-face discussions they had this week as they negotiate via carrier pigeon and pony express until they all return in December for the Winter Meetings that still happen technically in the fall.

Not much happened today, but for everything that happened at the GM Meetings relating to the Cardinals, you can check out Day 3, Day 2, and Day 1‘s notebooks.

And don’t forget to go vote in the Cardinal Blogger Awards.

Giants have been the most aggressive on Stanton?

Bob Nightengale is reporting this morning that the Miami Marlins are not close to trading Giancarlo Stanton, but that the San Francisco Giants have been the most aggressive in trade discussions.

This doesn’t surprise me too much. The Giants desperately need both outfield help and offensive help and Stanton would help most. The problem for the Giants comes in as they are generally considered to have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, hence their need to be more aggressive. The system has no consensus top-100 prospects. Their top-3 prospects according to (3B Christian Arroyo, 1B Chris Shaw, and RHP Tyler Beede) have all appeared on various top-100 charts this season, but never on multiple.

But the Giants’ offer sounds like it may be built around outfielder Heliot Ramos who is their #4 prospect according to and first round draft pick in 2017. Ramos hit .348/.404/.645 with 6 home runs in 35 games in rookie league this season.

GMs respond to trade requests with emojis and GIFs?

Ben Nicholson-Smith from SportsNet Canada with my favorite piece of reporting of the week. He reported this morning that he learned this week that GMs use emojis while texting about trade deals, but some also reply with GIFs.

And some actual news…

The Cardinals received the #39 pick in the competitive balance lottery. And Lance Lynn official declines his qualifying offer.

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 3

And were off on the penultimate day of the General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida. As always I recommend clicking through to the articles to support the reporters who are doing the work getting us these nuggets that keep us on the edges of our seats.

And if you’ve been visiting another planet for the last couple days, catch up with Day 2 and Day 1 notebooks as well.

Morrison weighing offer from the Cardinals?

Rob Rains reported yesterday afternoon (and apparently I missed it) when discussing that the Cardinals had talked to free agent first baseman Logan Morrison that he was also reporting that Rains was weighing contract offers from the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels.

Morrison is hard to figure out just how much he would command in free agency, so I don’t have a guess that would be worth anything. He’s coming off a 1 year, $2.5 million deal with Tampa that had another $1.25 million in incentives.

Morrison was worth 3.3 WAR over 601 plate appearances last season. Based on my tweet this morning with last season’s WAR/600 numbers, that would have put him in an effective tie with Dexter Fowler as the team’s third most valuable player in 2017. But his previous career high in WAR was 1.1 in 2014. So it is yet to be determined whether that’s repeatable, real change in approach or whether it’s a fluke. In addition, those 601 plate appearances are a career high for a player who debuted in 2010.

With the news that Matt Carpenter has been told to come to camp expecting to be a “super utility” guy, it looks like Morrison might be their option at first base.

Cardinals and Rays have talked about Colome?

Jon Morosi reported this afternoon that the the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays have discussed closer Alex Colome in trade talks. Derrick Goold added that it’s not the first time the Cardinals have called the Rays asking about Colome either.

The 28-year-old Colome is one of my favorite potential Cardinals’ targets this winter. Colome led the league with 47 saves last season for the Rays with a 3.24 ERA. He has three years of salary arbitration remaining and would likely cost quite a bit to bring in. However, the other options like Wade Davis or Greg Holland pose their own questions. The Rays, who are looking at a franchise high in payroll next season, may have interest in selling off guys who don’t have guaranteed contracts. Colome is projected to earn $5.5 million this season.

There is some concern with his drop in strikeouts from 11.3 K/9 to 7.8 K/9, but he started using his cutter more this year than ever before and saw a huge drop in line drive rates while maintaining an increase in ground ball rates.

Cardinals and Marlins talk about Stanton?

Jon Morosi is also reporting this afternoon that the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins discussed trade concepts based around acquiring Giancarlo Stanton today. Presuming this means anything more than what’s already been talked about for the better part of two weeks, this would seem to indicate there’s some traction there.

Derrick Goold added that the two sides also met to discuss improvements to Roger Dean Stadium, where both spend spring training. The park needs some modernization and the lease requires mirroring improvements.

Cardinals have no interest in Martinez?

Derrick Goold is reporting this afternoon that the Cardinals have no interest in J.D. Martinez and have had internal conversations about Carlos Gonzalez.

I’m not a big fan of signing a player off a career year mainly because you’re likely to overpay for regression. That’s Martinez. His .690 slugging percentage was impressive, but a far cry from the .540 slugging percentage he averaged over the previous three seasons. He also hit twice as many home runs as he did in 2016 in one fewer game. In other words, that’s some unsustainable success.

For Carlos Gonzalez, he struggled last season before finishing it on fire. Unfortunately, he still struggled away from Coors Field. That’s not to mean he might not still be capable of being a productive player. I feel like playing at Coors Field for 81 games a year creates bad habits in hitters. His bat is not the answer the Cardinals are looking for, but it may allow them to make another player available for acquiring someone they need via trade.

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 2

Day 2 of the General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida took place today. Unlike yesterday, we’ll just go ahead and call this “Stanton Day” as we finally have everyone involved playing games with media leaks.

Stanton’s price too high?

Buster Olney reported this morning that rival executives believe that the Marlins’ asking price for Giancarlo Stanton is “shockingly high and somewhat out of touch with reality.”

This probably means that the Marlins don’t want to eat much contract, but still want to receive meaningful prospects in return. Given that Stanton’s remaining deal is not extreme for what he is and similar to what he would receive in free agency, I think the Marlins do have a point. Unfortunately, everyone knows their motivations for wanting to move him.

Trying to sift fact from fiction on Stanton is difficult because so much has been bouncing around that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s just pure discussion while frustrated that nothing’s happening. But I’m growing to believe that Stanton is willing and wanting to stay in Miami, but would prefer to win. This is why he can be as picky as it sounds like he’s willing to be. Because the worst case is living somewhere he wants to be. I’m growing convinced that this is not a “get out of town at all costs” situation.

Rays listening on players?

Jon Heyman reported this morning that the Rays are listening to other teams on many of their players. Some listed in the article as potential candidates are Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome, Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, and potentially even Evan Longoria who is just shy of receiving 10/5 rights (after 10 years in the league, five years with a franchise gives players the ability to block a trade).

Given what the Rays said yesterday about Archer being one of the guys they intend to build around, I find it doubtful that they’re too serious about dealing him, but there are a number of players here I’d have interest in if I were the Cardinals.

I think Odorizzi could benefit from a move out of the AL East. He had a rough summer, but otherwise put together a decent year. I can’t imagine he would cost that much given his recent struggles and he should be cheap enough that you could cut him loose if he doesn’t figure it out. I really like Colome, their closer. And Kiermaier may be the best defensive center fielder in baseball. To give you an idea of how good, Kiermaier missed time with a hip fracture last season and was still worth 5+ WAR thanks to his defense.

Stanton won’t accept a trade to Red Sox or Cardinals?

Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald reported this morning a source tells him that Stanton will not accept a trade to the Red Sox or the Cardinals. Those were the two teams believed just yesterday to be most heavily pursuing him.

Whether this is just gamesmanship at this point is the question. The Marlins are the gatekeeper. They’re setting the standard of the kind of return they want to get before they present Stanton the option to say yes or no. And then it’s up to Stanton to decide what he wants to do.

Derrick Goold discussed how no trade clauses can affect trade discussions between teams, using Houston’s Justin Verlander pursuit as the example. However the distinct difference there is that Houston was leading the AL East and was poised to be the best team in the American League. The Cardinals won 83 games and finished third in the NL Central, falling further back from postseason contention than they were the year before. Filling the club’s other needs may be the key to convincing Stanton that St. Louis is a worthy destination.

Seven teams have checked in on Stanton?

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that as many as seven teams have inquired about what it would take to trade for Stanton.

Obviously there’s no more information here beyond teams checking in. This could be ask easy as someone asking what it would take, laughing, and then walking away to go sign J.D. Martinez. That’s what we don’t know. But obviously a player of Stanton’s caliber being available is worth doing your due diligence on. The last thing you want his him going somewhere else for a price you definitely would have paid.

Stanton hasn’t ruled out any destination?

Battle of the conflicting reports. Evan Drelich of NBC Sports reported this afternoon that according to a source with knowledge of Stanton’s thinking he has not ruled out any potential destinations.

And just like that the Cardinals have a chance again. Obviously there’s the battle of leverage being played out. The more destinations it seems like Stanton might have, the more likely an organization is to increase their offer in an effort to get past the gatekeeper. If the world knew Stanton only wanted to play for one or two franchises, the Marlins have much less bargaining power.

Cardinals have talked to Morrison?

Rob Rains reported this afternoon that the Cardinals have had conversations with first baseman Logan Morrison. It was reported yesterday by Jon Heyman that the Cardinals were exploring options at first base and Morrison has been linked with the Cardinals before.

Morrison hit 38 home runs last season to go along with a .246/.353/.516 batting line. He had a 135 OPS+ after being a barely above average Major League player for the previous seven seasons. In fact, before he posted a 3.6 WAR this season, he had never had more than the 1.4 WAR he put up in 99 games with Seattle in 2014.

Certainly Morrison’s 2017 was nice, but he has more track record as a middle of the road hitter than he does as a middle of the order hitter. And the Cardinals have plenty of the former already.

Cardinals interested in Ohtani?

Rains also reported that the Cardinals do have interest in Shohei Ohtani if he does get approved by the MLB and posted. Ohtani has said that money is not his primary factor and wants to continue to play two ways. One would think the Cardinals would have to let him both pitch and play in the outfield in order to nab him since they have a maximum bonus cap of $300,000 for international free agents, much less than other teams who aren’t under penalty.

On top of whatever they pay Ohtani in signing bonus, they would have to pay the $20 million posting fee in addition.

Carpenter to be “super utility guy”

Derrick Goold reported this evening that the Cardinals have told Matt Carpenter he should prepare to be a “super utility guy” in 2018 depending on who the team acquires and what they do this winter.

I’m sure many of us collectively cringe when they hear that. I’m not opposed to the idea of Matt Carpenter defensively at first base, second base, third base, or even a corner outfield spot. However, I do note when looking at his defensive metrics that he is generally better overall when he plays one position. His worst defensive seasons have come when he’s been bouncing around the infield. That’s a concern to me.

Also is the shoulder if rest doesn’t fix it. Last season he discussed the shoulder hurting him when he threw. Will he really be able to play a position that asks him to throw the ball regularly? And if he elects to play through the pain once again, is the team prepared to take a diminished offensive Carpenter?

Reyes to miss opener, begin as reliever

Rick Hummel reported this evening that the Cardinals intend to have Alex Reyes begin his season around May 1st and putting him into the bullpen depending on the team’s needs. John Mozeliak said that he believes Reyes would be ready on Opening Day, but this is to watch his innings and ensure that he is available at the end of the season. There’s also some notes in there about Sandy Alcantara.

This confirms what I’ve been suggesting since the beginning that they will bring Reyes along slowly. No need to push him into the rotation out of the gate this year, even though Mozeliak indicates he believes Reyes will be ready.

Notebook: GM Meetings, Day 1

Today was the first day of the General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida. I’ve gone ahead and put together a notebook recap of the pertinent Cardinals’ related rumors to catch you up. And, to answer everyone’s first question, there has been no substantive movement on Giancarlo Stanton today.

Cardinals looking at Darvish, Arrieta and starting pitching trades?

Fan Rag Sports’ Jon Heyman who indicated this morning that the Cardinals were looking at Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, but would be exploring the trade market for a starting pitcher first.

In the article he links to, he writes that the Cardinals met with agents from the Wasserman Group for an hour last night and discussed pitching. Wasserman represents Giancarlo Stanton, but on the pitching side also represents free agents Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, and Addison Reed.

I’ve argued since before the 2017 season that the Cardinals will have a need at starting pitcher next season, but this is the team’s first real admission that they might be uncomfortable entering 2018 with a rotation that consists of two rookies, a former ace who had back and arm issues last season, a pitcher who literally gets hurt by pitching too much, and Carlos Martinez.

I still prefer Lance Lynn to Darvish and Arrieta, however. Especially if his contract falls to the kind of numbers that MLB Trade Rumors and Fangraphs has suggested it will. I know looking purely at results is frowned upon, but he had the best of the three. And I think there are other reasons why his more advanced metrics were bad other than them just being a precursor to marked decline.

But given the wording of the article, Heyman’s sources could have been intentionally vague to make it seem as if the Cardinals could be interested in more than they are.

Beltran retires & getting looks as Yankees manager?

Carlos Beltran became a World Series champion with the Houston Astros just a couple weeks ago and there were rumors that he would retire following the season. And today he confirmed those as he officially announced his retirement in a post over at The Players’ Tribune.

In addition, there’s some speculation that he could be considered for the Yankees’ open managerial position.

Cardinals exploring first base options?

Another report from Jon Heyman this afternoon, indicates that the Cardinals are exploring options at first base. Available free agent first base options that could interest the Cardinals at the top of the board include Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana. An intriguing thought could be Adam Lind in a playing time share with Jose Martinez at first base.

The move would most likely mean Matt Carpenter would slide back across the diamond to third base full time. Martinez had a strong season with a 135 wRC+ that ranked second on the Cardinals and 30th among MLB players who appeared in at least 100 games.

Cardinals want to sign “multiple” relievers?

In his notes about today’s happenings in Orlando, Derrick Goold pointed out the Cardinals’ interest in signing some bullpen help. He pointed out that General Manager Michael Girsch indicated that they want to sign “multiple” relievers and that the meeting last night with the agent for Darvish, Morrow, and Reed may have been to discuss the fits for the two latter named players rather than the first.