Will The Cardinals Forego A First Round Pick To Sign A Center Fielder

By Beth Chapman
Nov. 18, 2016

The MLB off-season has reached the final Free Agent list. Qualifying Offers have either been accepted or declined as of this past Monday, November 14. Those that declined come with a first round draft pick. Not to the team who signs the player, but to the team they formerly suited up with. The St. Louis Cardinals are looking to sign a player for centerfield, as reported CF Randal Grichuk is to be moved to left field.  If they truly are looking for longevity and a solid player, there are two which would fit the bill. However, each would result in a loss of the draft pick.

Yoenis Cespedes, 2017 Free Agent who declined the 1 Yr/$17.2 MM QO.
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Yoenis Cespedes, in 2016, had 136 hits with 31 HR/86 RBI for a .284 BA and .891 OPS. The 31 year old covered left and center field in 2016. In left field, playing 550.2 innings held a .972 Fldg% with only four errors. In centerfield, 495.1 IP, held a .992 percentage and charged with one error. In his five major league seasons, he a two time All Star, twice MVP contender, holds a Golden Glove and was a Silver Slugger award winner this year. He was paid $27.5 MM in 2016 and has a market value of just under $25 MM. I'm sure he's looking for a 5-6 year deal, minimum of $30 MM annually. In my opinion, he would be a very solid addition for the Cardinals. Even though, would a $175 MM+ be in the best interest of Cardinals Nation for an outfielder. 

Dexter Fowler, added to the 2017 Free Agent pool after declining a qualifying offer.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Dexter Flower declining the qualifying offer by the Chicago Cubs, now into the 2017 Free Agent pool. Flower has let it be known he wouldn't mind at all to be in a "Birds on the Bat" uniform in his future. And, he may be a great fit for the Cardinals. The 30 year old, who will be 31 in March, definitely has major league experience in this nine years. In 2016, hitting a .276 BA/.840 OPS, slugged out 13 HR/48 RBI on 126 hits. A centerfielder by trade. The last he played in a corner was in 2008 while with the Colorado Rockies for - one inning. Last season, he logged 1027.1 innings in center, with a .983 Fldg% and only committed four errors. He had 219 put-outs with 229 chances. He was paid $8 MM in 2016. Market value places him just under $18 MM. Another, in my opinion, which would fit into the Cardinals team well. Not only on the field, but off. A 5 year, with a fifth year, maybe even a 6th team option, contract would be feasible in the ballpark of $125-$140 MM. The Cubs would recoup a first round pick should he sign with the Cardinals - a bit of "tit for tat" for last year between the two teams. 

The MLB Winter Meetings will convene at National Harbor, Maryland, Dec. 4-8, at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Just south of Washington, D.C.. A time when the business of baseball on many levels is discussed. However, that is two weeks away. I don't expect to read that either of the above have been signed by the Cardinals prior to the meetings. And, more speculation will be written about regarding Cardinals "interest" for their centerfield choice. However, definitely, in my opinion, talks are going to heat up and the Cardinals will make their announcement before the end of December. Next, to solidify their infield. 

I just love baseball. Granted, I miss the games. But, the off-season proves to be very interesting. AND, now there are only 86 Days until Spring Training