The Cardinals were fairly quiet this past offseason, but they did make a trade for a utility infielder.
The 2015 offseason was an eventful one with many large names signing monster deals and blockbuster trades but what truly wins championships are the moves that are made that nobody notices.
One of the most underrated positions in baseball is the utility infielder. With the long, grueling 162 game season, players frequently need days off leading to the utility infielder to play 3-4 games a week
This position was a position that the Cardinals have lacked in recent years. This offseason, GM John Mozeliak addressed this issue by going out and made the most unnoticed, poorly thought out trade in baseball. He traded Outfielder Jon Jay to the San Diego Padres for utility infielder Jedd Gyorko.
San Diego has been trying to get rid of Gyorko ever since they signed him to an albatross of a contract that consists of a 5 year $35 million extension in 2014. The infielder has not lived up to the hype he was given when he was a top prospect. After an impressive rookie season, hitting 23 homeruns, he has not been the same player. Gyorko is a power hitter which compensates for his lack of average but without this, he is a below average player. Gyorko will for the first time in his career not be getting consistent at bats which will make it almost impossible for him to have a breakout 2016 season which makes the trade make even less sense.
— Cardinals Report (@stlcards_fanly) February 3, 2016
Mozeliak traded away Jay who was on the last year of his deal, owed $3.5 million in 2016. He can play all outfield positions somewhat well, despite the thing hanging from his shoulder he calls an arm, a position that has many question marks in the Cardinals organization and would have been useful to have another option off the bench in case one of the young players don’t pan out as the Cardinals hope (Hopefully not true).
Jay had a down year in 2015, hitting at .210 in only 79 games played but it should not be forgotten that jay has hit .300 or better 4 times in his 6 year career. Jay is also a lefty bat that would have been crucial off the bench for the heavy right handed hitting Cardinals. This high average bat is something that is lacking from this sometimes frustrating Cardinals offense.
Trading for Gyorko is bad enough based on his contract. He is on the roster for 4 more years, through 2019, and his best year (Key word: Year) is behind him. In recent years, he has shown no signs of improvement or any glimpse of hope. Gyorko will eat at the Cardinals pay role and take up a spot on the bench that should be occupied by a prospect or veteran infielder who can field his position.
Although I do agree that the Cardinals address their need in Gyorko, he is more of a cancer than an asset. He will take away at bats from Greg Garcia who showed flashes of brilliance in 2015. He also is a liability in the field which will be detrimental to the Cardinals who built their team off pitching and defense.
Ultimately, I don’t mind trading Jay. I mind acquiring Gyorko. The trade left us worse than before. Unless Gyorko can pull out an impressive 2016 campaign, it is hard to see Cardinals fans not begging Mozeliak to get him out of town by August. Too bad a team might not make the same mistake.