Salutations. Welcome to the countdown to free agency. I would imagine we're about to enter the tempest -- one of the most lively chatting seasons since the advent of chats here at StlToday.com. We'll go wherever you take it. Please be patient as last week we had hundreds of questions that I didn't even get a chance to read -- let alone answer -- and sometimes that's because readers are submitting the same question multiple times. If you can, submit once and I'll do my best to get to it. We'll be here awhile, per usual. The New York Marathon happens once a year. The Cardinals Chat Marathon happens every Monday. Hope you're hydrated.
One from the Cardinals. Zero from the Cardinals.
He would be down-ballot, as they say. He's not a target at this point because the Cardinals have eyes on trading for a bat, not going back to the free-agent market. They will have to pivot and possibly look at Bruce if the trade moves fizzle on them. But that's not their preference, at this point.
The Cardinals are one of the teams that is, as we've mentioned in the chat and in print, figuratively camped outside of the Marlins office and ready to talk whenever Jeter & Co. is open to it. The Cardinals want to be one of the teams the Marlins talk a lot to this winter -- and in the coming weeks. All things being equal, of course they'd like to trade for a transformative bat like Stanton, but that contract remains -- as we've outlined many many times -- problematic. The Cardinals will sweeten their offer with prospects depending on how much of the contract the Marlins are willing to pick up. Yes, that means players from the major-league roster, young, cost-controlled players. Yes, that means one or two of the better arms. The Cardinals are not going to be able to land the bat they covet -- whomever it is -- without giving up at least one of the "best young arms." The Cardinals are ready to do this. That could be Flaherty. That could be Alcantara. That could be Dakota Hudson. They would prefer that it's not Jordan Hicks. This is established.
Position players go fast in the draft, and there are rarely high-end given position player performers when the Cardinals pick. That's why they took Delvin Perez, you'll recall. The Bryants of the world and Bregmans of the world aren't getting to pick No. 19. Doesn't happen. The Cubs and Astros were able to make moves on position players like they did for two reasons: The Cubs prioritize them and they drafted high enough to go after them; the Astros purposefully lost for enough years to get early picks and go for the best player available, not try to go for the most polished pitcher, as Cardinals often do. That is going t change for two teams. I had one Cubs official tell me that the Cardinal were three years ahead of where the Cubs want to be when it comes to pitching -- drafting and developing. I had another NL rival tell me that the Cardinals were ahead of folks when it came to developing pitchers and that made their picks stand out even when they drafted late. The NL exec suggested the rest of the league has caught up.
Both of them. Getting talent costs talent.
Alex Reyes is an unknown because of his health, and that is going to be entirely on the other end of the conversation and what trust the interested team has in him. I've heard of none. Leaving the season, the closest description I got was that a team would need to see what Reyes has to offer in spring training before knowing really where his health and strength and readiness is for the 2018 season. That's no big surprise. The Cardinals wonder the same thing, and he's on their roster.
The Cardinals have the want, they have the prospects, they have the room to take on a lot of his deal. Stanton has all the leverage.
I think you are mixing and melding and splicing two statements. How you feel about Mike Matheny and what he's done with the roster these past two seasons are your opinion, and this past year there was plenty of criticism of the manager that was merited. The statement your referencing, I think, has to do with the team's success, and the fact that some of the Luhnow Longing was apparently rooted in the notion that 2013 did not exist. Or, look, there are plenty of examples of how the front office could have stepped from its comfort zone and broken loose from its data-driven decisions and made a decision that would have appeased or thrilled the fan base -- but I get the sense there is a pocket, a small echo chamber of Cardinal Nation that will never be happy about any deal the Cardinals make until Altuve is at second, Trout is in center, Kershaw is on the mound, and Gehrig is at first base. The questions we all see in the chat are proof of this bubble. But that is not a widespread opinion. Never has been.
We did with a huge, glowing, blinking, neon asterisk. Mike Matheny, to his credit, has been honest about how the save stat does still dictate moves in baseball. All managers know it. All managers follow it. Matheny admitted it. And that was where things went at times this past season. It's also worth noting that with Oh, Siegrist, and Cecil all struggling at times -- sometimes for long times -- the Cardinals never really had the aggressive mix of shutdown relievers they imagined and planned to use in this way. They want to remedy that situation this winter.
It's clear that 29 teams have no interest in taking on Stanton's contract as is. That is every team. And if MLB expanded in the coming hours, the two new teams would also not have any interest in that contract. Real Madrid probably doesn't have interest in taking on that contract, and it takes on all kinds of contracts. I don't know an exact figure, and I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Cardinals have a number in mind based on the prospects they'll offer and another number in mind based on another set of prospects they'll offer. This is the sliding scale at work. And the question will be how far the Marlins want to go -- to get out from the under the deal or to get some kind of return on it.
My colleague Ben Frederickson had an interesting thought exercise. Say the Marlins offer Stanton up to the team willing to take on the largest part of the contract -- for minimal return -- and just shaves $5 million off until some team bites. What team bites?
Noted. Be prepared to bring this up again in December, and April, and maybe even May or June or July. Heck, just save this opinion on your computer somewhere handy.
It sold out. So they added several more rows of seats. Those sold out too. It was an excellent event, and there was coverage all over StlToday.com about it.
The Cardinals will continue to talk to the Marlins about the other options they have in the outfield. The Cardinals have had -- will also continue to have -- talks with Toronto about Donaldson. There's going to be a time -- if there hasn't been already -- that the Cardinals and Tampa Bay will sort through ways they might be a match, from starting pitcher to closer to bat. San Diego is going to be in the market at some point to see what its hitters can command, and the White Sox -- always a team that wants the world -- will see what the market is for Abreu. Not sure how motivated they are as a seller. Working on some kind of extension seems more likely. But the return will be strong for a bat this winter, and the Cardinals know it will take them past their pain point.
Have not heard that as possibility, mostly because the Cardinals believe their answer is via trade. If that doesn't happen, then the Cardinals will have to circle into the market and see what options are there. Not sure the Cardinals want to try for a lottery ticket until they know they can't get a sure-thing.
I have no idea. I doubt it will be Los Angeles. Every team has money these days.
For free? No cost? All things being equal? Machado.