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The future of the SS position in St Louis? If not DeJong then who, Baez, Crawford, Correa, Story?



In the episode of Yakker Jacks above, host Brian Swope talks with Mark Saxson about what the Cardinals should do at the shortstop position.


This is the time of year that fans wonder what their team will do in the off-season. What route will they take? Are they going to burn it down or reload? Are we trading or spending money? Who is available? Who is the best fit?


Nolan Arenado via Jeff Roberson-AP

One of the big off-season moves was pulled off by the St Louis Cardinals in the trade for third baseman Nolan Arenado. The Cardinals sent Left-handed starter/reliever Austin Gomber and Minor leaguers Mateo Gil, Tony Locey, Elehuris Montero, and Jake Sommers. Mozeliak and the company also coaxed the Rockies into paying $50 million of Arenado's salary. Probably one of the biggest thefts of ALL-TIME in baseball.



That was last season, and this November will start a new off-season. That begs the question, how do you top last season? While many fans look at the rotation, bullpen, or bench as areas that needed an upgrade. There is a growing number who want to see a change at the Short Stop position.


The current occupant of that position is Paul DeJong.

Paul DeJong via Jeff Cury - USA Today.

DeJong is an Illinois State University graduate. The St Louis Cardinals drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 MBL draft.

He came to the majors in May of 2017, going .285/.325/.532 with 25 home runs and 65 RBIs. He was thought of as the future at SS

that has been statically his best season. Although he did have 30 home runs and 78 RBIs in 2019. This year he has been somewhat of an offensive shell of himself. .185/.286/.385 12 home runs 24 RBIs. Defensively he is still outstanding. But with Paul Goldschmidt and now Arenado, the need is not just power but also the ability to hit for average.

Edmundo Sosa via Jeff Roberson-AP

Edmundo Sosa is excellent defensively with what most people say is better range than DeJong. Hitting wise career-wise, they are relatively equal. Average-wise, but Sosa is slightly better at getting on base with a low 17% k-rate. However, he lacks any REAL power. And for someone you are expecting for the 5/6 slot in the order, you need someone legit in the power/ on-base department.




A trade could be made, but it would be pretty costly in terms of players and prospects needed. The type of Short Stop we need most are on teams in hotly contested races OR will be Free Agents next year. So paying high prospects for a rental is not the best route. What would make the most sense is to wait until the off-season when quite literally all it takes is money.


This year several good Short Stops are available and could fit the bill. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the current top 3 available are Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Trevor Story. Now I would add Brandon Crawford and Javier Baez to that list as well. All will have their contracts expire at the end of the year. All play excellent defense and hit relatively well anywhere in the .275/340/.490 area. Most in the 25+ home run 70 RBI realm. So how do we whittle this field down?


The Dodgers, Giants, and Cubs have many players heading toward free agency who they decide keeping is speculative, So SS may not be the priority.


Age; Crawford is 34, Baez and Story are 29, Seager is 28, and Correa is 27.


Availability;

Brandon Crawford

Brandon Crawford via Justin K Aller- getty images

The Giants may choose to move from Crawford because of his age (next year will be his age 35 years). He currently is making just over $15.1 million. The Giants have a youngster Marco Luciano in A ball, considered a high prospect #12 by Baseball America, #16 by MLB, and #8 by baseball prospectus. They could extend a Qualifying offer to Crawford, which would buy them time. Or they could cut bait and see what comes available. Either way, Crawford's time in the Bay area may be limited.


Cory Seager

Cory Seager via Harry How-Getty Images

Dodgers have Gavin Lux, who has filled in for Cory Seager when he has been injured. Lux is not the hitter. Seager is 28 and making $13.7 before breaking his hand. Sportrac had his value listed at $313 million for 10 years(31.3 million per year) or more than double his current salary. And given the broken had, he will likely end up settling for less, which the Dodgers would be able to afford since it is unlikely they will pursue Free Agent Trevor Bauer. However, 10 years would come but him in his 36-38 age years the tail end of the contract. They might be looking for a shorter-term option.


Javier Baez

Javier Baez via Getty images

Now the Cubs are said to be looking to sell. They have Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Zach Davies, and Javier Baez, all free agents at the end of the year. It is rumored that the Cubs will be sellers at the deadline. Baez is the youngest and probably the most expensive of the free agents. He could be a very valuable trade piece. But so are Rizzo and Bryant. Davies could be a vital rotation piece in the future for the Cubs. Depending on who goes first and what the Cubs get, the Cubs will need someone to build around. It could be Baez or Rizzo.


Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa via Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Carlos Correa, I have a hard time thinking Houston will let him go quietly. They have an up-and-coming SS Jeremy Pena in High A. Good hitter but does not have the same pop and is probably at least 2+ years away. Now they have two top pitchers looking at free agency as well. Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. Verlander is out this year recovering from Tommy John's surgery and will be 40 next year. So it could drop his price, or the Astros could just let him go to pursue Kershaw or one of the other free agent pitchers available. So when it comes to Correa, I can see the Astros fighting to keep at least Correa. If The Astros do let Correa get to free agency, expect the Dodgers, Giants, Athletics, Rays, and the Cardinals to stick their toes in the water.




Trevor Story

Trevor Story via Justin Edmonds-getty images

The Rockies would probably like to hang onto Trevor Story. They have a couple of promising SS in their system, but are at least two years away. Although current Second baseman Brendan Rogers is also a SS, and they have Chris Owings, a second baseman. So they could decide a rebuild is in order. The Rockies have two other somewhat High profile free agents in Charlie Blackmon and Ian Desmond. Both are 36 and have little if any trade value. While it is not clear if he will be moved by the deadline, it is reasonably confident that Story will be a free agent. I think teams involved in chasing after Story will likely be Dodgers, Giants, and Cardinals as well.


Of these players, the one that makes the most sense, (all-be-it an expensive one) for the Cardinals is Trevor Story. The Cardinals, like others, have SS talent on the farm but none that could be middle-of-the-order bats(good average with power). Because Story is rumored to be on the trading block, Mo could feel sorry for fleecing Colorado like he did and offer up promising talents like Liberatore, or Thompson, and maybe a Wynn or Walker, to get a Story this year.

However:

A) I don't think Mo is that charitable.

B) It is pretty much a done deal that Story will enter the free-agent market.


The story does come with a question about his ability to hit away from Coors Field.

Career wise

At Coors .305/.369/.612, 90 HR, 262 RBIs

Away .249/.311/.436, 55 HR, 155 RBIs


As for where he hits well away from Coors field, mainly the West and Southwest, as for the Central, he hits well in Pittsburgh, and that is about it. One would expect this due to the small number of ABs outside of the West Coast. I think it would be safe to say that he could adapt to places like Busch and Great America park and Miller Park and Wrigley Field. I am talking more in terms of average than power. He still has outside of Coors legit power. Probably not 30+ but somewhere in the 20-25 range. Defensively, he is an upgrade to DeJong in terms of range. Arm strength, Like DeJong, he is also a brilliant fielder. The difference will be at the plate.


So can we get him


So who has the leg up? Some would say even money is on the Dodgers, Maybe the Athletics or Giants. Don't count out the Cardinals. They can match the big boys step for step in terms of money this year with the expiration of the Multi-Million dollar contracts of Andrew Miller, Matt Carpenter, Carlos Martinez, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright. There will be $79 Million and change coming off the books. Now figuring in the Increase for Arenado's contract, We paid $20 Mil this year, and it will go up to $29 Mil in 2022, which gives us a net of around $70 Mil to play with. That does not include moving DeJong and his Six million dollar contract. Even if we were to resign Waino and Yadi, we are talking a small percentage of what is available. They could get into the $30 to $34 million range for Story, If needed, They may not have to.


Where St. Louis might have the advantage is at third base with Nolan Arenado. When asked about the Home Run Derby at the recent All-Star game, Arenado was practically gushing about Story, saying, "He's my boy!" Right now, there is NO bigger cheerleader and salesperson for the Cardinals than Nolan Arenado. He has repeatedly said that he will be here a long time and how thankful he is to be a Cardinal. This is a bargaining chip other teams do not have and could be a deciding factor as long as money is equal. He might even be able to convince Story to come down somewhat to make room for other improvements. (This is no guarantee) Arenado has mentioned how he talked to other players who played for St Louis and was told it was a great place to play. Rest assured IF the Redbirds enter the Story sweepstakes. Nolan Arenado will be making a couple of phone calls.


So let's talk about what it will take;


Money, of course - Story's projected Market value is Approximately $31 million for 6 years. Which would put him at age 35 when such a contract would end. That length of the contract is right in the Cardinal wheelhouse. The price point is in the higher range than St Louis likes, with Goldy at $26 million and Arenado at $29 million, adding another contract in the $30 million range for at least the next 4 years(Goldschmidt is a free agent in 2025). It might make them take a pause if not a couple of stiff shots of scotch. Financially, you still have Paul DeJong under contract at $6 million for 2022 and $9 million for 2023, There is a team option for 2024 at $12 million, and a 2025 option at $15 million.


If you get Story, what do you do with DeJong?

You can:

A. Keep him as a Left side utility player since he can play 3B or SS. If Gorman is brought up to play 2B, you have two solid utility infield/bench bats in DeJong and Edman.


B. package him in a trade for pitching or trade him outright for prospects.


Tony Clark MLBPA via Mory Gash- AP

The next thing is the new CBA.

With the negotiation of the new CBA between baseball and the payers union. It is unknown what if anything will be discussed or changed about free agency, luxury tax, and so forth. A reduction in luxury tax could make other teams like the Dodgers or Athletics, even the Angels, throw more money around. A change in revenue sharing might even make conservative teams MORE conservative. A team like St Louis, usually in the top ten in spending but not straying into luxury tax areas, it may not affect. This would also be an opportunity for the Cardinals or ANY team to make an early splash Before Dec 1 (Providing agents don't get in the way).


I see St Louis making an early offer to Story, especially if it looks like there will be any alterations to free agency in the new CBA.


I don't see the Cardinals "All-In" (trading DeJong before going after Story), but I see them using whatever weapons they have to make it happen.

As for a plan B? I would say They could look at a Baez or even Seager should they hit the market. Whatever happens, there is a way to upgrade SS.


That is my opinion, what's yours?

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