There’s a few too many people on the metaphorical island.
A few days ago, John Mozeliak was discussing the outfield and said “We’re not going to have enough room at the inn. That is something we, as an organization, are going to have to take a very hard look at this offseason and decide what makes the most sense.”
This quote is interesting for the future prospects of the Cardinals outfield. Right now, the Cardinals have a surplus of young outfielders that are rising through the minors. Harrison Bader is a top 5 prospect, and Tommy Pham, though not exactly young, has risen from the minors to a breakout season. It’s difficult to see a permanent place for both with Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty taking a lion’s share of the minutes. That’s not even accounting for the rising minor leaguers like Oscar Mercado, Tyler O’Neil, and Magneuris Sierra, all of whom are young and under team control.
Who to trade?
There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, but there’s no point in the Cardinals keeping all of these assets if they’re trying to win now. With the team still contending in late August, it’s pretty clear that Mozeliak has decided to see how far this core can take him without trading too many assets. His above quote is interesting because it’s a true commitment to some offseason moves.
It’s an interesting situation, because even if the Cardinals wanted to develop all of their young outfielders, there simply isn’t enough space for them to get innings in the majors. Either some of their young prospects will lose their luster in the minors, are the Cardinals can trade them away to try and get some value. The question is, who is on the block and what kind of return should the Cardinals look for?
Win now or re-tool?
The Cardinals, in their eternal quest to replace power their offense are in the search for a big bat. Now, what big bat could the Cardinals possib-
Stop it. Read this article for Stanton stuff because there’s not enough time for me to get into it here, but long story short it’s not exactly as perfect a fit as you might think.
The real question, as it has always been for the Cardinals this season, is are they looking to rebuild or win now? As of now, they’re 5 games back in the NL central with a month left to play. Should they close the gap, they’ll probably look to trade a younger player or two in an effort to snag a big bat from another team. Let’s say the Cardinals missed the postseason by a couple of games, they could definitely attempt to re-tool for the next season. Somebody like Marcell Ozuna could be a possibility, though if the Marlins didn’t move him at the deadline it seems unlikely they do it this offseason.
The other option is the exact opposite scenario. The Cardinals tank really hard at the end of the season and fall way out of the race. Normally, this would be a situation where the Cardinals would blow it up and rebuild. However, instead of taking the traditional route of trading current value for future assets, Mozeliak could trade outfield assets for other assets, like defensive infielders or pitching help. That way, the Cardinals wouldn’t have to entirely re-tool, but they could just address their weaknesses while keeping the core intact.
The Cardinals have a lot of options with their outfield in the future, and although Mozeliak can go a lot of directions, I think he should use the assets he has to try and acquire as many beneficial pieces as possible and look to retry in 2018. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Piscotty and Pham have proven their worth, and Fowler is a capable vet, meaning all the other outfielders should be put on the market just to test their value. I’m not saying they should all be dealt, but Mozeliak should do his due diligence and figure out exactly what kind of value his surplus of outfielders has, and then see if he can displace that value to weaker parts of the team for a run in 2018.