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13 Rumor-Free Thoughts on the Cardinals and Giancarlo Stanton

Let’s talk about the Cardinals and Giancarlo Stanton.

First, I don’t care about the rumors that flood the web on a daily basis. Rumors can be fun … but only if there’s a cap placed on the rumors. Maybe 100 per day, max? But I don’t care what an insider survey reveals, or get all dizzy when Twitter spits out new or recycled speculation.

I just want to talk about Cardinals and Stanton … and this will be an Insider Free Zone. I have no rumors to offer.

But I do have some thoughts:

1. Your team doesn’t have to put up huge home-run counts or rack up a robust slugging percentage to attain success. During the first six seasons of the double wild card postseason format, 30 National League teams made the playoffs. Fifteen of the 30 finished in the top five in the NL in homers. And 15 of the 30 finished in the top five in slugging. But even that’s misleading; in the first five seasons of the two wild card setup only 10 of 25 NL postseason teams ranked among the top five in slugging. Here’s a close-to-home example: the 2015 Cardinals were 11th in the NL in homers and 9th in slugging … and won 100 games. The 2016 Cardinals led the league in homers (225) and were second in slugging percentage (.442) … and won only 86 games and failed to make the postseason.

2. But if the Cardinals are serious in their desire for a BIG BAT who can give their lineup some thump, some wallop, some thunder, some danger, some intimidation … well, Giancarlo Stanton is the fit. Not that you’ve forgotten this already, but Stanton rocked 59 homers in 2017. Since his first full season in the bigs (2011), Stanton ranks third in the majors in raw HR count, trailing only Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz. He’s second among active players since 2011 in slugging percentage (.560) … with Mike Trout slightly ahead at .566. And Stanton has the best HR ratio in the majors since 2011, going deep every 13.13 at-bats.

3. About the Stanton contract: unless he opts out after the 2020 season, the team that employs the big fellow is obligated to pay him a guaranteed $285 million through the end of the 2027 campaign, which is his age 37 season. If the team picks up Stanton’s $25 million option for 2028, then the total cost of the remaining deal is $310 million. If the team declines to exercise the option, they’ll owe Stanton a $10 million buyout. And that adds up to $295 million through 2027.

4. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. But MLB is bringing in an all-time high revenue stream, and player salaries continue to rise. The Stanton contract will average $29 million per season over the next 10 years. But do you think player salaries will be going down over the next 10 seasons? Of course not. The salaries will continue to increase. Here’s how we know this: 10 years ago, in the 2008 season, only two big-league players made a salary of $20 million or more: Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter. By 2010, that number grew to five players. By 2012 there were 12 players getting at least $20 million. By 2015, there were 21 … by 2017, MLB teams paid 35 players a salary of $20 million or above. And in 2018 — this is before the free-agent signings this offseason — 35 players will receive $20 million or more. And in that group, four will make $30 million or more. And 13 will be paid at least $25 million. The point is, over the next six, seven or eight years the Stanton contract won’t seem as imposing as it is right now. I’m not saying he’ll be a bargain down the road a few years; after all players age. But his salary won’t come with the sticker shock that we see now. Oh, yeah … and the team owners’ revenue will be escalating over the next 10 years. No team will go broke by having a $29 million salary on the roster.

5. The Cardinals have enormous financial strength because of fan support, marketing-sponsorship deals, the successful Ballpark Village development, and a local TV contract that is about to enter a prosperous new realm: a $1.1 billion deal with Fox Sports that begins next season.

6. The Cardinals also have the future payroll flexibility to afford an expensive slugger. According to Cots Contracts, the Cardinals presently have a 2018 player payroll of $126.3 million. Obviously, that figure will be cranked up once the team adds players this offseason. But look ahead to 2019 and beyond. According to Cots, the Cardinals have $97.5 million in payroll accounted for in 2019, $80 million in 2020, $36.7 million in 2021, and $8 million in 2022. Again, those payrolls will substantially grow each offseason. But the important takeaway is this: the Cardinals, right now, are not bogged down with bad contracts that will clog their payroll for the next several years. They’re in much better shape, for example, than the San Francisco Giants. The Giants already have a $187.4 million payroll for 2018, $114.1 million for 2019, and $109.3 million for 2020. That is serious payroll congestion. And those upcoming payrolls will only swell as the Giants add roster pieces.

7. Unlike other teams out there, Cardinals aren’t looking — and grimacing — at payroll-tax problems. According to the Cots projections, the Cardinals right now are about $60 million under the payroll-tax threshold for 2018. Some potential Stanton suitors — including Boston and San Francisco — would end up in payroll-tax hell by taking in Stanton’s contract.

8. To acquire Stanton (or any BIG BAT) in a trade, the Cardinals can deal from their generous supply of talented young pitching, and tap into an intriguing surplus of young outfield talent. This is why so many baseball pundits continue to insist that the Cardinals — with their payroll flexibility and collection of prospects — are in the best position to land Stanton.

9. If the Cardinals want a premium power hitter — which are in short supply in the marketplace — they’ll have to pay up. It’s as simple as that. There are no discounts. Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. will have to pay the premium rate. As I mentioned before, the contract costs for established power hitters won’t be going down. Those type of contracts will spike even higher in the coming years. Yes, maybe the Cardinals can entice the Marlins into absorb a percentage of Stanton’s contract by offering a higher-quality package of prospects. We’ll see. But either way … if Stanton is the Cardinals’ No. 1 target on the wish list, they have to pay up. There is no getting around that.

10. I agree with an opinion expressed by my colleague Kevin Wheeler: if Stanton, who is 28, was entering the free-agent market this offseason after bombing 59 home runs — wouldn’t he command a 10-year deal worth $300 million? Perhaps teams would give him seven or eight years on the contract length instead of 10 years … but the yearly salaries would be massive. Given the impulsive spending that we see from some teams, Stanton the free agent could probably get more on the open market than the $295 million he’s got coming to him under his current contract.

11. And if free-agent slugger and corner outfielder J.D. Martinez is destined to come out of the offseason contract frenzy with a $200 million deal – averaging $28 million or more per season — then what’s so scary about Stanton’s contract? Stanton is two years younger than Martinez. And Stanton is superior right fielder defensively. This past season Stanton ranked 4th among MLB right fielders with +10 defensive runs saved, and he’s plus 45 in defensive runs saved during his career at the position. Martinez is a terrible minus 28 in defensive runs saved for his career in right field; that includes a minus 22 in 2016 and a minus 5 this past season.

12. Of course, Stanton can veto any trade. That includes a potential deal that would bring him to St. Louis. But given the Cardinals’ consistent success, and the replenishment of the player-development system, Stanton would have a chance to win here … and likely win big. How much does that matter to him? We may find out.

13. Then again, how much does winning matter to the Cardinals? I think it matters — a lot — but if they take a pass on Stanton because of the money, questions will be raised.

More – Stanton Rumors: Insider Talks Cardinals’ Chances and Who They’d Have Part With in a Trade

  • Chris Moeller

    This article makes the contract seem very logical. It’s the JD Martinez price that terrifies. Pick up the Stanton contract and keep the prospects.

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    • Realist50

      We’ll see what Martinez actually gets. Around $200 million is reportedly the initial ask from Boras to open negotiations. Third-party prognosticators are projecting numbers more like $150 to $160 million over 6 years.

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  • JDinSTL

    We’re dealing with pre-McGwire DeWitt.

    • Big T

      Huh

      • JDinSTL

        Do you remember the performance of the 1998-1999 teams, when he had payroll capped at 40 some odd % of revenue.

        That’s what he’s doing now.

        • John

          Think our good teams had more than just one of the greatest hitters of all time. Other players included Rolen, Edmonds, Renteria, Wano, Carpenter, Molina, Eckstein, Mulder, Weaver, etc.

          • JDinSTL

            Who exactly did the Cardinals have in 1998-1999?

          • Steinerecliner

            McGwire, Morris, Landford, Jordon, Gant. They had a good line up but the rotation and bull pin was terrible. Matt Morris was the only pitcher who was consistent in making starts and was good. We had a lot of guys who came in who where supposed to be good but failed. Like Jeff Brantley and ext who where solid coming in but like a lot of bullpin players doesn’t work.

          • Big T

            Kent Bottenfield also had a career year. He was 18-7 with a 3.97 ERA. Other pitchers were Darren Oliver 9-9,Manny Aybar,and the closer Ricky Bottalico (20 saves) Team was 75-86… By the way Morris was only 7-5 in 99 but had a .253 ERA. His best years were 2001-2007. (2000 was his TJ injury year.)

            Line up also had Gaetti and Tatis along with JD Drew and Joe McEwing. You were right they had a decent line up and no substantial pitching

          • Steinerecliner

            Yeah they also had to keep covering Donovan Osbourne injuries which I believe he was meant to be a top pitcher. It a shame that after that career year Kent off and left. Bottalico 20 saves isn’t great.

          • JDinSTL

            We knew all we needed to know about Donna following his Game #7 flop vs. the Braves. Gutless wonder.

          • JDinSTL

            Jordan was in Atlanta

          • Steinerecliner

            He was here in 98. 99 he went to Altanta.

          • JDinSTL

            in the same way that Giancarlo Stanton will play elsewhere next year. Thanks Dollar Bill!

        • JDInSTL – Their revenue was estimated to be about 360 million in 2016 (and that’s before the FSMW billion dollar contract kicks in). If you conservatively say their revenue hits $420 million this upcoming season, 40% is 168 million dollar payroll. Their revenue is probably much higher than that.

          168MM gets you Stanton plus a good reliever and maybe others. 2018 contract obligations are expected to be 123 after arbitration raises.

          • JDinSTL

            Dollar Bill will simply take the cap lower.

    • JeremyR

      Pre-Pujols DeWitt

      The only reason the Cardinals had such a great run was they unexpectedly got one of the greatest hitters of all time to build a team around.

      • JDinSTL

        Not quite. The Edmonds and Renteria trades – along with acquiring Kile were very very important. And, they all involved investing in talent.

      • JDinSTL

        I’m certain it’s about to happen again, aren’t you?

      • LawrenceKScardsfan

        Luck is always important – drafting Pujols in the 4 millionth round for example….

  • rightthinker4

    So Bernie, what you’re saying is, if the Cardinals and Stanton both want to win, Stanton will be the #3 hitter for the 2018 Cardinals.

    • JDinSTL

      Stanton does want to win. Dollar Bill and his stooge President Moe are quite complacent – not to mention arrogant.

      • John

        Front office will look weak if they don’t make some huge deals this winter. I have never liked MO. His best deals are the overpriced ones he could not close (Pujols, Price, Hayword etc) .LaRussa was the mastermind behind most the trades MO made when we were winning championships. Little sympathy for MO & company…..They can’t control it if Stanton does not want to come here.

        • JDinSTL

          I hear they are using some vintage 1990’s cartoon re-runs to amuse him.

    • Realist50

      Well, if they really want to do everything possible to win, he’ll be the #2 or #4 hitter on the 2018 Cardinals because it’s pretty well understood in the analytically-minded baseball community that the #3 hitter should be something like a team’s 4th or 5th best hitter after putting better hitters in the #1 – #4 – #2 and possibly #5 spots depending on their specific combination of OBP and power. Batting order tends not to matter as much as a lot of people (including Bernie) think, but why not take advantage of the small benefit of setting it in the most optimal way? ( https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/3/17/795946/optimizing-your-lineup-by )

      Also, FWIW, in 2017 Stanton got most of his PA’s (493) at the #2 spot in the order followed by 155 PA’s at the #4 spot in the order. He got 6 PA’s, in 1 game, batting in the #3 spot.

  • geoff

    Is Stanton worth roughly 30% of the huge TV contract the Cards are about to enter in to? I know things don’t work this way because….well…just because but, wouldn’t it be nice if the price of a soda and a hot dog were more reasonable. A Coke costs like 10 bucks and the sandwiches in the Cardinal club cost like 14 bucks. I know the Cards do a decent job of offering reasonably priced tickets throughout the season but, the price of taking your wife and two kids to a ballgame is getting to the point where people are having to rethink how to spend their entertainment dollars. The Cards have a loyal and rabid following but I was here for the seventies when I sat in the bleachers for sixty home games at 2 bucks a ticket and there were plenty of empty seats for every game. Sure the team was lousy but I don’t know that acquiring Stanton for ten years will have people knocking down the gates to get into the ballpark. The Cards need some guys who can hit a lot more than they need a guy who can hit 60 home runs while striking out over 160 times. Keep in mind, the Marlins had Stanton and Yelich and Ozuna, who people here are pining for and the Marlins were an under .500 team. From what I saw the Cards need more than just Stanton to make them competitive.

    • Big T

      Geoff, Right again. I was probably in the bleachers with you during the seventies. What fun!! Great Ted Simmons and others… Hang in there Gio and another bat makes us WS relevant. Hands down.

      Break out year for C Mart after he figures out what color of hair best suits him!!

    • George Belt

      Geoff… I can remember when a bleacher seat in Sportsman Park was a buck and a scorecard printed with the lineup and that days standings was 10 cents. Paying 2 bucks for a seat in the 70’s was an overpay as those teams were bad. I had season tickets right behind home plate beginning in ’74 and there were a lot of vacant seats around me.
      On Stanton… I disagree. He would change how they pitch to their lineup and make the whole team better. It is my opinion…the Cardinals are better than they played last season. They lost so many games in the late innings and a better bullpen will solve many of those issues. I would like to see them move Wacha to a late inning spot in the pen. I think his stuff would play really well there.

      • Big T

        24-29 in one run games says a lot about how good they were but the record did not show it. Seven of those one run losses went to the Cubs. Stanton would change a lot of this. Also i agree that if you can find another starter Wach could potentially save 40+ games.

        Personally if they do not sign him or Martinez it will cost them a ton of prospect to get someone else. teams will see their need and the short supply. Kinda makes 16 mill for Luis Robert seem cheap right now. Have a great Thanksgiving

      • geoff

        George, I paid 2 bucks for series tickets in ’67 and ’68 too. I am not sure, or even confident, that Wacha’s troublesome shoulder blade thing can withstand the rigors of pitching more frequently without much recovery time to fit the demands of being a closer. They and probably you know more than I do about that stuff but, it seems to me being a closer would cause much more stress than starting every fifth or so day.

    • Steinerecliner

      The article explains it well. NO Stanton will not fix EVERYTHING but he would fix a lot. The Cardinals are also looking into pitching starter and bullpin. The the thing is for top level hitter and defensive player, you will play for it. Watch next year when Harper hits free agent. He will make this contract look like a bargain. Yes the Marlins had all those player but what they didn’t have was pitching. The Cardinals had better pitching and if we had Stanton last year, we would made the playoffs. We where not that far off from the Wild Card and his offense would given us the extra runs we lacked. I’m not saying we go far into the play offs but we would made it.

      Let me answer this, would fans come to see Stanton? Yes. The same way we all went to watch Big Mac, remember what place the team was in 98. The same way we all watched Albert. The the thing is we have players who can “hit” but we need a guy a pitcher fears. We saw Pham, Dejong, Molina, and ext can hit but Stanton will bring those runs in. We lost a lot of power hitters and NEVER replaced them.

      • Big T

        Agreed! Absolutely accurate assessment.

    • Big T

      Geoff,
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones

    • LawrenceKScardsfan

      Yeah but he can move on after 3 years (which I think he’ll likely do if he agrees to a trade to the Cards). So basically you’re taking a roll to see if the Cards with Stanton can produce a WS victory. I say I can pay a bit more for bad food at the stadium for this opportunity. P.S. Always eat BEFORE you go to the ballpark. There are great restaurants all over the place. Get to the game a 2 hours early and eat first. Then watch the suckers pay $10 for an artery clogging hot dog on a piece of stale bread or nasty tortillas with Velveeta melt.

  • Big T

    Mr. DeWitt has done a great job of being prudent with his team and investment which is single handedly the reason #4-6 above are even on the board here.

    If the cost in prospects is not too high and/or a bad value driven deal then I am all in on Gio. He will markedly improve this team in every phase of the game (hitting, running and defending.) We have done very well stockpiling great prospects and have a well positioned payroll, and farm system to make this work. Gonna be fun. Get it done before a 3 team deal is made and we lose him!!

    Flaherty and Weaver would be great to keep but I see them getting one of them in this deal. I believe Flaherty has the highest upside. Go Cards!!

  • Sandy Kaup

    Would love to acquire stanton…but it doesn’t sound like he wants to come to STL…so keep the pitching prospects to use later…. sign Martinez to a fa deal and then try to get acquire a number 1 starter like archer from Ray for those pitching prospects….The worse thing we can do is fall short on Stanton and then have to sign 2 or 3 JAG’s instead….

    • JeremyR

      My guess is that is exactly what happens and we end up signing Holland (closer), Frazier (3b as the “big bat”), and Cobb (starting pitcher)

      • John

        I think Martinez is not quite as good defensively but I would take him over Stanton and add the players JeremyR references. Jeter is trying to hit a grand slam here and it should not be on our dime.

  • John

    Being reported on bleacher report that Stanton will reject any trade to Boston or STL

    • Tom L

      Shortly after that appeared on Bleacher Report came this, from the same source:
      ‘Stanton actually has not ruled out the Red Sox — or, it seems, any other organizations — according to a report from Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. While the slugger may have initial preferences, Drellich writes that he’s maintaining a “’completely’ open mind.”’
      Baseball’s silly season has officially begun.

      • John

        Yea I saw that recently. Who knows. A lot of the rumors are BS. Some could be placed out there on purpose to try and make teams pay up. Stanton should be off the board by the end of winter meetings.

        • Steinerecliner

          What I seem to be reading that Stanton and the Marlins have not had the best communications with each other.

  • JeremyR

    As expensive as the contract is, it arguably provides surplus value. Even “bad” Stanton is worth about 4.5 WAR a year, which has a value of $40 million a year. (Good Stanton is 5-6 war and 45-55 million) And you are always better off paying the money for a guy that produces much more in excess of 2 WAR (which is average) than paying full price for an average player (which the Cardinals have been doing). Because that way you end up fielding an average team for too much money. At some point you simply need better than average players.

    But while the Cardinals can afford him in both money and prospects, what about the ownership has ever said they would be willing to spend the sort of money (and prospects) to acquire him?

    Again, just look at 2017 when the Cardinals had a lower payroll than the Royals, who received revenue sharing money.

    Expecting the Cardinals to come anywhere near the luxury tax is laughable. We’ll probably see a modest increase, from about 150 million to 170 million. Which might get Stanton, but if it does, won’t fix any other holes in the team.

  • How many brainless bozo’s will be crying here the day they announce Stanton will not be a Cardinal? They will act as if they can’t believe it. It will be hilarious to behold.

  • William Thom

    If they do or not, they can improve. The contract is so daunting as many write. Still, they were willing to give a 30 year old Matt Holliday close to 17 million a year for 7 years, in 2010.

  • Scott Warren

    None of this matters as he already said thumbs down to the Cardinals. I’m sure they have a solid Plan B though just like they have had in the past, LOL.

  • Glenn Reitz

    I would just assume the Cardinals pick up multiple players including a good RELIABLE starter along with a “good” bat, and a closer.

  • JP McCready

    Stanton is NOT coming to St. Louis or going to Boston. Move along!

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    No chance the Cardinals won’t make a play for Stanton. But they may be unsuccessful because either the Marlins find a sweeter deal or Stanton decides he doesn’t want to play in St. Louis. I’ll say that is more than they did for Turner or Chapman – both available free agents last year. No offer was forthcoming. If you make a serious effort, it matters. Sitting on the sideline like they did last off season while suggesting that Fowler would deliver a championship on his own just made Card’s management look stupid.

    • Realist50

      It was very widely understood that there was virtually zero chance of Turner signing anywhere except L.A. last off-season. He’s an L.A.-area guy to the core: he grew up in the L.A. area and went to Cal State-Fullerton.

      As for Chapman, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cardinals (as well as some other teams) wanted nothing to do with him due his off the field issues.

      • LawrenceKScardsfan

        Look, if you don’t make an offer for Turner what do you expect? The Cards could have offered him some serious money. Playoffs this last season – highly likely. If you don’t get up and take a swing you can’t hit the ball.

        Regards Chapman – that may be true. But regardless, the guy can close games. With him on board we would’ve prevailed in a number of close games or games in which we had the lead late. We suffered mightily in this area and it’s why the Cards are shopping for not one, but TWO relievers now.

        • Realist50

          Regarding point 1: do you have insight to tell you that the Cardinals’ front office didn’t talk with with Turner’s agent to understand his market? It’s not getting to “make an offer” is a publicly-disclosed process, unless the front office or agent chooses to leak it. And, if it becomes clear from initial contacts that there’s no real interest from the player, it’s just spinning wheels and wasting time for the front office to keep spending a lot of time pursuing the player.

          As for Chapman, let’s set aside the off the field issues and just focus on baseball. In 2017, Chapman’s FIP (2.56) and ERA (3.22) were both notably worse than his career numbers, with his strikeout rate down a lot from his career numbers. Maybe that’s a blip, or maybe it’s an early sign of decline from a player who is in the first year of a 5 year / $86 million contract. I don’t think I’d count on Chapman to age especially well, because he relies a lot on pure velocity without great command or secondary pitches. In the 2016 playoffs, when Chapman pitched some games with lower velocity due to fatigue, we saw signs that Chapman without great velocity isn’t going to be a shutdown late inning reliever.

          As for whether Chapman would have made that much of a difference in just 2017, that’s highly debatable. He was a 1.5 WAR pitcher by Fangraphs and 1.0 WAR by Baseball Reference, so that tells us to expect that he would have made the team 1-2 wins better in 2017. If you prefer simpler stats on what happened in 2017, he had 22 saves compared to 4 blown saves, which is hardly a lockdown closer.

          Stepping back, there are three closers who were the top of the free agent class and got big contracts before 2017: Chapman, Jansen (5 years / $80 million), and Melancon (4 years / $62 million). The only one of those three contracts that looks like its trending well after Year 1 is Jansen. I’ve gone through Chapman above. Melancon only pitched 30 innings due to the dreaded “strained right forearm” that’s often followed by news of needing Tommy John surgery, and he didn’t perform up to his career numbers when he did pitch.

          • LawrenceKScardsfan

            You are correct – I don’t have privy to confidential information related to offers made by the Cardinals. However, no one has indicated that any offer or even an inquiry was made on Turner. Most of those who post here say that is because Turner expressed a desire to stay in LA. You are the first one to say that there might have been an offer and we just don’t know. Congratulations! BTW, they were unsuccessful in landing Price but certainly disclosed that they made an offer. Curious they would not do so regarding Turner.

            Regards Chapman. Yes, 2017 was a disappointing year for Chapman due to injury. But not bad. Over the previous five years (2012-16) he averaged 36 saves a season with a SO/W ratio of over 4. He also was an Allstar for the four years beginning in 2012 though 2015. And he was closing for the Yankees in the playoffs. I personally think he’s a great pitcher (though he definitely has anger issues – but other players have faced these kinds of issues and received psychological help that really helped – Ron Artest for example).

            You may be correct that the Cardinals might be unwise to pursue a free agent closer. However, from all the media reports I’ve read, this seems to be the approach. That said, my complaint about the Cardinals in the last off season was their failure to address the closer/bullpen at that time. It was, IMO, an obvious weakness and I’m not looking at reams of data and probability stats. Chapman was available – but there were others too. In fact, Bernie wrote a whole column on how various playoff contending teams addressed their bullpen issues by acquiring closers and or relievers before the trade deadline. The Cardinals did nothing.

            They may do nothing again. But my thinking is that they’ll at least offer Nicasio something to resign with the team. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. All I ask is that they TRY.

          • Realist50

            I’m not doubting that Chapman was a great late inning reliever for 2012-16, and he wasn’t by any means bad in 2017. The point, however, is that, as with all free agents, a team is signing the player’s future performance, not his history. We should definitely take the under on Aroldis Chapman in his early 30’s (he turns 30 in February 2018) performing the same as peak Chapman in his mid to late-20’s, due to whatever combination of injuries and simple performance decline. The real question is just how far under, and something less than peak Chapman can still be a good to very good reliever. It’s certainly not a great sign, though, that he missed about a month with a left shoulder injury in the first year of his 5-year contract.

            It’s also rewriting history to say now that the Cardinals went into 2017 with a bad-looking bullpen situation. Between Oh, Rosenthal, and Cecil as a free agent signing, the Cardinals looked to have three good to very good late inning options plus other reasonably good relievers such as Lyons and Bowman. It was tough to have much confidence in Siegrist after his ERA was much better than his peripherals – peripherals are more predictive of future performance – in 2016, and that was probably an impetus for signing Cecil. Unfortunately, Oh was far worse in 2017 than 2016, Rosenthal ended up injured by mid-August, and Cecil didn’t live up to expectations (though he wasn’t as bad as a lot of fans think).

            It’s abundantly clear that the Cardinals are planning to make offseason additions that make the 2018 bullpen look fairly different than it does based on the roster right now. We’ll see whether that’s paying up in free agency or trade for a “name brand proven closer”, or getting Nicasio plus one or two similar set up man types. Based on the contracts being forecast for Davis (health questions) and Holland (performance questions), I think that I prefer the latter route, but I’ll be very surprised if the front office doesn’t devote something like $15 to $20 million of salary and/or trades to bullpen additions. In other words, I think that it’s a virtual certainty that they’ll try, as you put it.

            I also wouldn’t ignore the potential for some of the Cardinals’ highly-rated young starting pitchers (Reyes, Alcantara, Hudson, Helsley) to end up in the major league bullpen for at least part of 2018. It’s a longstanding Cardinals’ strategy as a way both to bolster the bullpen mid-season and to help young pitchers get their feet wet in MLB. Examples go all the way back (at least) to Wainwright in 2006, and Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and Carlos Martinez all spent time in the major league bullpen as their first role on the MLB pitching staff. Reyes’ 2016 appearances with the Cardinals were also a mix of relief appearances and starts.

          • LawrenceKScardsfan

            I’m not rewriting history about the bullpen. You’re new to this forum. I recommended this from the get go before last season began. Oh had already begun to falter in 2016. He never was meant to be the closer. We acquired him as a set up man. Rosenthal was always too wild for me. And there are several in the StL community who would agree. Even with his two year reign as closer, you could never depend on him to shut down a game. He simply put to many men on base.

            I like your suggestion of bringing our young arms into the pen now – now later. This was another issue I had with Cards management during this last 2017 season. We have arms but they don’t bring them into the pen when the Cards are long shots at getting to the playoffs. I mean, Nicasio was brought in knowing full well he would not pitch in any playoff scenario. My understanding (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that it’s about the player’s clock – meaning when they’re are brought up to the majors, they automatically begin a countdown towards arbitration and free agency. DeWitt and crew want to minimize costs and maximize value, and they see more value in keeping young arms in the minors until there’s a compelling reason to bring them up. Last season to me offered a compelling reason, but not to management.

            Since you mention age in regards to Chapman (he’s 29 now), Oh – the designated closer for the Cardinals going into 2017 – was 34 and is 35 now. And Oh is not the closer Chapman is (older and not as talented). Relying on him for 2017 was a mistake IMO.