Aloha. Greetings from the palatial Swan and Dolphin Resort here in Disney World, where we've been fittingly squirreled away in the media workroom at the back of the complex. They let us out for water and we have to tweet to earn our food. It's the Winter Meetings. Cardinals already have a reliever in place, and I'm sure we'll get a lot of angst about other signings not made. The Cardinals are going to engage with Tampa Bay and again with Florida and see where those talks take them. Enough prelude, let's get to the questions, and please be understanding as there will be times I need to step away to report -- like, for example, the 9 minute delay here. Just had to run down someone to answer a question.
He's Russ Springer, v. 2017. There's a role for him with this team, especially as the Cardinals get somewhat younger in the bullpen. He gives them a seasoned setup guy with the second-most holds since he came into the majors. He's going to be consistent. He's going to be able to do the work that the manager requires of that role, and he's going to be a rock for the other relievers. If this is where the Cardinals stop with their bullpen, then they didn't accomplish what they needed to this winter.
They have already had discussions with the Rays, and if those are going to include Archer it would be because they would like to trade for him because he's talented not because he's otherwise a Cub. The Cardinals have talked to the Rays about Colome, and I've been told now by multiple sources that there has been talks about expanding that deal to include Longoria, or what a Longoria deal would look like. The Cardinals have had interest in Archer, but they are unsure if they have the prospects/want to pull off that kind of mega deal that lands the target of their interest, Colome.
The Cardinals are not commenting at all on Gregerson until he passes his physical. So whatever they consider him -- setup, right fielder, closer, advanced scout -- is not coming from their comments.
Sure. But they have to do something significant to narrow gap on Cubs.
Sure. Fans have the right to be frustrated about anything. I don't see why anyone would put a cramp on opinions. I just don't understand how quickly frustration turns to anger. Some of the things that come to me via email or on Twitter are just -- angry. As if the Cardinals weren't able to get Stanton, shrugged, and signed Gregerson -- as their right fielder. That's not what happened. The market has been slow to move. And it's not a coincidence that you've seen the Cubs and Cardinals do-si-do these weeks. The Cubs had interest in Mikolas. Cardinals signed him. Cubs sign Chatwood. The Cardinals had interest in Morrow, and, like the Cubs, thought he might be a closer. Cubs sign him. Cardinals, who would prefer Colome, sign Gregerson. And so we go.
There are plenty of real reasons to get frustrated about where the Cardinals are right now in the game or in the division or in the standings. Fans can find them.
Entirely possible if the Cardinals go outside to get the bat that they want and plant that bat in right field. At this point, the Cardinals would be wanting to make a series of moves to get to this point. They would like to add a right fielder and then move Piscotty to Oakland for pitching that is off the 40-man roster, or some other prospects off the 40-man roster. That would be appealing to them, unless they see a reliever with the A's that is worth shuffling around the 40-man to accommodate.
Ozuna has two more years of control. He is entering his second year of arbitration and he has more than four years of service time. He will go through arbitration one more time next winter and then be a free agent before the 2020 season. He's represented by Scott Boras. The haul for him, prospect-wise, will be based on the value of his contract. That is a huuuuuuuuge factor. Teams could offer less to take on more of Stanton's contract, while they'll have to offer significant prospects to get Ozuna's friendly contract. Same with Yelich, who is under team control even longer.
It is still possible that the Cardinals add two relievers beyond Gregerson. Definitely one. But there are scenarios out there where they add a third.
It is actually one of the rare titles that means what it says. A cross-checker comes back to cross-check amateur talent. So you have the area scout who hounds and finds and evaluates the talent, and the cross-check then comes across to give a sense of where that talent fits in the larger picture.
It's significant but not for all the reasons you mentioned. The Rams, for example, don't have a role in this. The outside perception of the Cardinals, the clubhouse, the manager and the tangible perception of the Cardinals in the standings are all factors. Social unrest in the city plays a part. One big factor is the idea that players are reaching the majors younger and younger and that means they're becoming free agents younger, and thus instead of looking for where they'll be with a family (like Holliday) they are looking for where they will still be single (like Heyward). It's not like Mike Hampton looking for schools.
I will also add -- and to me this is really important -- it's not just that St. Louis taking these steps back it's also other teams moving forward and ahead. The Cubs have certainly done that. They have a front office that is very gifted at selling their team, their future, their manager, their culture, even a few years ago their "last great quest in North American sports." All teams have money. Even teams that claim they don't have money have money. And there are bigger media markets that are fits for players, and now some of those teams are some of the better teams to play for. I've heard it likened to the star-collecting that you see in the NBA, and maybe there is some of that. But it's not only the Cardinals losing luster as a destination, a big big big part of this is other teams gaining and selling their team as a destination.
That is what they would like, yes.
Both outcomes are in play.
Trades is their preference. They feel they have a better chance at this point of trading for the bat they covet and hopefully getting a few years of control to go along with it. That's why the Marlins outfielders have been, will be, continue to be of interest to the Cardinals.
I was actually asked about this yesterday by a few of the other media here, and they broadened the question to include San Francisco that did the same thing. It was unusual ... but understandable. The Cardinals and Giants both agreed to keep their talks with Stanton private until the outfielder had made his decision. (One team actually did.) That did't stop the questions from being asked, and through the process I had been told that once there was resolution -- any resolution, good, bad, indifferent -- the Cardinals would offer clarity. I think that was the big thing for them. They wanted to put in a statement that they had made their case so that they could own that part of it, but also make it clear they had been told no and were now moving on. It did clear up any fog that would have lingered if they had said nothing.
I have always been more dolphin than swan. The Cardinals front office, starting about in June, has become increasingly impatient with what the team looks like, how it has played, where it is in the standings, and of course how some of their wishes for the roster have been unsuccessful. That's the best way I can put it. The front office seems ... urgent.
They have, all along, been spinning multiple plates and doing what you describe here. Trying to find the right deal to maximize the prospects that they have and acquire the two things they desire, a closer and a bat. That's how this works. If there are overlapping prospects, then they need make a call at that point on who they want more. At the same time, the Cardinals check with Baltimore about Britton and Machado and here what that will cost and then can move on to parallel conversations with the Rays about Colome and Longoria -- and one talk can inform the other because they're trying to get a sense for what is the required offer from the market and from the team. The winter is far more fluid than it probably seems when viewed through Twitter. It's not Chutes & Ladders -- all linear tracks and tumbles -- as much as it Trivial Pursuit. Sometimes really trivial pursuits.