Cardinals Randal Grichuk To Left Field. Search For Centerfield Coverage.

By Beth Chapman
Nov. 06, 2016

St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has stated that Randal Grichuk will be moved from center to left field to take over for the exit of LF Matt Holliday. Now, open, the centerfield position. Cardinals fans will be looking for the "bright and shiny" players such as 31 year old Yoenis Cespedes and/or 30 year old Dexter Fowler to fill the position. And, if Mozeliak doesn't take the bait; once again, he and the organization will be thought of as "cheap". I strongly disagree with such greedy attitudes of the fan-ship who has no control over the checkbook. Are many Cardinals fans the only ones who get frustrated by the "non-action" of their organization? No. Granted, the Cardinals will have to look to free agency or a trade since they have no real alternative from within for the upcoming season. Even though, don't look for the organization to 'give up the farm' just to satisfy disgruntled fans. 

Cardinals began their offseason early. To avoid another season not being in postseason, GM John Mozeliak looks to free agency or a trade for centerfield. Moving Randal Grichuk to left field.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

MY PERSONAL SOAPBOX MOMENT 

Let me remind those who want the Mega-Big Bucks spent, of last season's transactions and 2016 performances. Arizona Diamondbacks signed pitcher 33 year old Zach Greinke, 6 Yr/$206.5 MM. In 2015, while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Grienke had a stellar 1.66 ERA and in contention for the Cy Young Award. In 2016, Grienke closed his season with Arizona with a 4.37 ERA. David Price, 31 years old, signed with the Boston Red Sox, 7 Yr/$217 MM (opt-out after 2018 season). In 2015, Price held a 2.30 ERA; 2016, closed with a 3.99 ERA. And, our own former Cardinals RF Jason Heyward. The first outfielder, and the youngest player (26), to be signed to such a lucrative contract, 8 Yr/$184 MM (two opt-outs, 2018 and 2019), with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs bought Heyward's Golden Glove arm, which he is excellent in the right corner. However, his 2015 .293 BA dropped in 2016 to a .230 average. In postseason, his "bright and shiny" .357 BA was not even closely realized in 2016 playoffs. He only produced a .083 BA in the NLDS, a .063 in the NLCS; and, in the World Series he was able to bump up to a grand 1.50 BA. 

All I'm saying is one can not "buy", no matter the money paid, an absolute guarantee for player performance. Paper numbers are great; but, there is nothing in stone that those stats will be repeated or improved upon. The "bright and shiny" can quickly turn to a tarnished piece of silver with a large amount of money committed for years to come.  

Two players have made it known, they will be apart of the 2017 Free Agent pool. Mets CF Yoenis Cespedes and Cubs CF Dexter Fowler. 

Mets, 31 year old, Yoenis Cespedes opted out of his 3 Yr/$75 MM contract he signed as a free agent in 2016. His 1 1/2 seasons with the Mets, .282 BA/.348 OBP/.554 SLG/.903 OPS with 48 HR/130 RBI. In 792 plate appearances, he drew 65 walks and had 162 strikeouts. In centerfield he held a .990 Fldg%. He's had a total of only seven stolen bases and caught twice. Golden Glove in 2015 and two time All Star. Five seasons in the majors, by opting out of his contract with the Mets, he will be looking for that lucrative contract such as Heyward received. So, Cardinals fans, do you lock him in for even five years (min.) for a ridiculous $175 MM; or, more? Brace yourselves Cardinals fans, I don't believe "Mo" will be among the bidding war for Cespedes. Is he cheap, no. He's a very smart baseball businessman. 

Cubs, 30 year old, Dexter Fowler, nine years in the majors. His two seasons with the Chicago northenders, .261 BA/.367 OBP/.427 SLG/.794 OPS with 30 HR/94 RBI. Fowler does have speed around the bags with 33 stolen bases and only caught 11 times. In his 1241 PA, he drew 163 walks with 278 strikeouts. However, in centerfield, he's held a .983 Fldg%. Not awful, but room for improvement. His first All Star appearance was in 2016 along with the rest of the Cubs starting line-up. By default or association? Probably. His postseason, he held a .133 against the Giants in the NLDS. In the NLCS, facing he Dodgers, he produced a .333 average; and, in the World Series, a .233 BA. Plus, Dexter had been lead-off for the Cubs. Don't believe he would overtake the position over Cardinals Matt Carpenter. So, Cardinals fans, would you open the checkbook up to a (min.) 5 Yr/$175 MM for the former Cubs centerfielder? He was paid $13 MM for his 2016 season. BUT, he did have a lead-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series, isn't that worth something? I say, get a grip Cardinals fans, I don't believe "Mo" will even come close to bidding on Fowler. 

WHO I WOULD SEEK. AND, POSSIBLES THAT MAY APPEAR ON THE CARDINALS LIST

I'm still in favor of talks with the Colorado Rockies for 30 year old CF Charlie Blackmon. In 2017 will be his first year arbitration eligible and won't be a free agent until 2019. I would be more than willing to give up some key pitchers to bring him on board. In his six years with Colorado, he's produced a .298/.348/.467/.814 slash line. Fldg%/.990. in 2016, he had 29 HR/82 RBI for a .324 BA. Away from Coors Stadium this past season, he slugged out a .313 BA/.563 SLG. Yes, I would lock him in for at least five years at a bargain basement price tag of $75 MM with options at years 4-5.  

The following have been suggested as possibles for the Cardinals short term free agent consideration (Brendan Dlubala, RedbirdsRant.com):

Cleveland Indians OF Rajai Davis (36): This past season closed with a .243/.306/.388 - 12 HR/48 RBI in the 134 games he played. Offensively, nothing to get real excited about. However, the key to Davis, defense and base running. He does play centerfield. He had 43 stolen bases; and, four in postseason. With the Cardinals being one of the worst in the MLB for base running, he definitely would be a bright spot in control of advancing on the bags. 

San Francisco OF Angel Pagan (35). Probably would not be a favorite by Cardinals fans; but could add a bat in the bottom of the order to challenge opposing pitchers. In 2016, he closed with .277/.331/.418 with 12 HR/55 RBI. However, the drawback , Pagan is more productive in left. Meaning the Cardinals would have to keep Grichuk in center. And, he does not have the speed around the bags compared to Davis. In 2016, he stole 15 and was caught 4 times. 

Chicago White Sox OF Austin Jackson (29). He can cover all outfield positions, dependable and in 2015, slash line of .267/.311/.385 in 136 games, 9 HR/48 RBI. In 2016, he only played in 54 games before going down due to .... "suffering a knee injury that required surgery on a torn meniscus in August that shut him down for the remainder of the 2016 season." For last season, no home runs, only 15 RBI with a .254 BA/.318 OBP/.343 SLG. The Cardinals took a gamble on 1B/OF Brandon Moss at mid-season in 2015. Bringing him on board from his return having hip surgery. He did a very solid job in the field. In 2016, saw his power bat appear; but, disappear late in the season. Do the Cardinals want to take a chance with Jackson? My feeling is, even thought Jackson may be a solid player in the field, the Cardinals will not want to take the chance with the "possible" fully recovered Jackson. They do need solid defense; but, also looking for stronger plate appearances. 

Pittsburgh Pirates OF Matt Joyce (32). The least likely, in my opinion, for Cardinals consideration. Unless, they are looking for a bench player to use in left or right field. The Pirates took a chance on the outfielder last season after his down season with the Los Angeles Angels, only holding a .174 BA in only 93 games. Pirates signed him for 1 Yr/$1 MM. And, he did come through for Pittsburgh. He closed the season with a .242 BA/.403 OBP/.463 SLG with 13 HR/42 RBI in his 140 games played. Since it looks like Brandon Moss will not be returning with the Cardinals, Joyce may just be quite the pick-up to come in off the bench. Playing in the corner outfield positions, he held a 1.000 Fldg%. 

TIME TO WIELD AND DEAL

This coming Tuesday, baseball business will become very active with trade details and the free agency list pretty much completed. However, there may still be some QO's yet to be offered for potential free agents to accept or decline. The free agent market, even waiting on QO's, is very thin for this season in comparison to that of the 2016 season. But, the MLB teams will begin to make their intentions known and the "Hot Stove" of baseball will light up. 

2016-17 MLB Offseason: Free agency, Winter Meetings, other important dates.  Qualifying offers ~ Monday, November 7Qualifying offer set at $17.2 million, and here's which free agents should get one. Yes, the off-season frenzy will soon be upon us.