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St_Louis_CardinalsThe rich get richer … or the Cardinals make a mistake. Depends on how you want to frame it.

Yesterday, reports surfaced that the Cardinals, after failing to find what they were looking for in the trade market, were closing in on a deal with free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year deal. Today, Jon Morosi adds that it looks like it’s going to be for four years and a little more than $52 million. (UPDATE: Multiple reports are now saying it’s a done deal, pending a physical.)

Shortstop was the one glaring hole on the Cardinals’ roster, even after Carlos Beltran leaves (since they can replace him in the outfield with a healthy Allen Craig, and put Matt Adams full-time at first base – it pays to have quality depth, eh?) in free agency. With Peralta replacing Pete Kozma – assuming the deal happens – the Cardinals will improve quite a bit in the near-term.

The rare aging shortstop who has actually improved at the position as he approached 30, Peralta (who turns 32 in May) has been a plus defender at shortstop each of the last three years, according to FanGraphs. That’ll fade over the next four years, but the Cardinals probably aren’t sacrificing much defense here for a significant upgrade with the bat (Pete Kozma had a 54 OPS+ last year). Two of the last three years, Peralta has had a wOBA above .350 (fantastic for a shortstop). Then again, three of the last five years, he’s had a wOBA below .310, so there’s some downside risk here.

The biggest knock on Peralta, obviously, is the PED suspension he got last year for his connection with the Biogenesis clinic. If Peralta has indeed been a juicer – and his suspension suggests that MLB had the goods on him – there’s additional downside risk for the Cardinals. At $13 to $14 million per year for four years, this deal could quickly turn into an albatross if Peralta pulls the kind of post-PED suspension pumpkining that befell Melky Cabrera (for example).

If the deal goes down, I like it near-term for the Cardinals (which is to say, I hate it for the Cubs). They are set to really excel over the next two years without rapid decline from guys like Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, and/or without massive regression from guys like Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig and Matt Adams. In the latter years of this deal, the Cards might not like it. But if they keep restocking the way they have, it might not matter.

Also: think the Tigers regret not making Peralta a qualifying offer?

  • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

    Cards middle infield will be quite interesting next year. We aren’t really sure what Wong is, and Peralta’s performance to date has been extremely BABIP dependent, and will likely become more BABIP dependent as he ages. Now that I’ve said that though, they’ll both the All-Stars.

  • Bill

    That sends a good message to future ped users.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, I also hate that part of it.

      • Tim

        They should make it where if you get suspended for PED’s you lose your current contract and are forced the league minimum for the remainder of your career

        • baldtaxguy

          I guess, in theory, the market should have penalized him – but it is hard to believe he would have received more without the PED’s. And of course he lost dough with the 50 games suspended.

  • BenW

    This is both a good and bad deal for the Cubs. It’s bad in the short-term, as he seems to be exactly what the Cards need to re-load. Their lineup will be deep, and defense will be improved. In the longer term, I like the deal from a Cubs perspective. In 2015/2016, when the Cubs are really ready to compete, he shouldn’t be a quality player, and his contract will be a sinkhole for a team that doesn’t seem to want to spend over 120 million.

    • Crazyhorse

      What the Cardinals do is irrelevent do what the Cubs do to succeed. In 2015/16 the Cardinal may just trade Peralta to anothor team in a package deal or he may have a career ending injury or he may have 4 productive years in which he fullfills his contract, the excuses or rationaliztions can go on endlessly but what is establish, the Cardinal at this moment in time have reloaded its team to be better at that position – at least on paper.

    • Professor Snarks

      His contract will be over before the Cubs challenge the Cardinals. We should prepare ourselves to that reality.

  • Senor Cub

    At age 23, Castro received a $60M extension for 7 yrs. At age 31 Peralta gets a 4yr $52/M contract. Which contract would you rather have. Castro will be 30 when he finishes this current contract. Castro coming off his “worst” year had over 160 hits. Peralta coming off one of his best years had 123 hits. You still want to bash Castro? I don’t!

    • Kyle

      It’s absolutely, completely pointless to compare a pre-arbitration extension to a free agent contract.

      I would have rather had Catro at the pre-FA service-time related terms he would have been on, personally.

    • Jason P

      There’s really no way you can spin Castro’s season into anything remotely positive. Referring to his hits is almost as bad as referring to the number of at bats he had. He was one of the worst 10 players in the league last year.

  • Cubbie in NC

    This move is sure not going to help the Cardinals improve their farm system and become competitive in 2018.

    • Voice of Reason

      You’re not talking apples and oranges.

      The cubs are not in the cardinals position.

      The cubs are rebuilding. The cardinals are the premiere franchise in the national league.

      • Cubbie in NC

        I am afraid that I am going to be struck by lightening at the keyboard for using the Cards as an example of something done well, and not an evil that must be destroyed.

        But the Cards do a good job of not only developing their minor league system, but of also going out to get players to fill MLB holes created when they lose a player, or the system does not produce when they are in need.

        They have not sacrificed years of winning where it matters the most.

        It is getting frustrating though watching the Cards get better at the MLB level while the Cubs get worse. If the big 4 are not all they are cracked up to be, the bad baseball we have watched for the last 3 years is going to last a lot longer.

        I am not convinced that this is not more about Theo trying to be a genius than using any means necessary to be good.

        • willis

          It is very frustrating watching the Cardinals year after year after year after year be simply awesome. But they are the best run franchise in baseball, so much better run than this team we love. Which makes it even worse. No matter what the cubs do, which will be nothing for awhile, even when the players that are in the one basket Theo and Co are playing with are ready, the Cardinals will still be great. They know how to run a great minor league system while being top notch in the majors. The Cubs don’t know how to do either, but are trying to figure out the minor league part while the cardinals continue to crush it the big league level. Sucks

          • DarthHater

            You forgot to mention that they also have the best fans.

  • Curt

    When if ever are the cubs going to do something of note of must we wait at least 2 more years , when does improving become parfait of the plan just askin.

    • Voice of Reason

      The cubs are improving. It just won’t be reflected in the win column at the major league level next year.

    • Patrick W.

      A week from Monday when they trade Jeff Samardzija

    • DarthHater

      Parfait of the plan. Mmmmmmmm…
      [img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7297/9187198640_dba311e7e5_m.jpg[/img]

  • Rebuilding

    *Sigh of relief* This is much better than them getting Tulowitski

    • cubsin

      But Tulo would have cost them several young arms and a position prospect or two. Peralta only costs them money (and not as much as Tulo would have cost in dollars).

      • Rebuilding

        Yeah, but unfortunately they have 8-9 quality arms to fill 5 spots. They didnt even know how to fit Wacha or Martinez in for awhile. Tulo out OPSd the next qualifying SS by 150 points. That trade would have made them much, much better

        • Rebuilding

          Tavares and Martinez are arguably the top ML ready prospects in the game and the Cards have no place to play them. It’s an embarrassment of riches. Hell, if you look at their depth chart Wacha is listed as their #6 starter and they shifted Rosenthal and Martinez to the BP because there was no place to put them in the rotation

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Taveras will be in the OF soon enough: as with Kozma, the Cards will realize that Bourjos’ fielding just does not make up for his hitting. (That’s assuming that Bourjos can play long enough wihtout hurting himself to show that!)

            I do agree that the Cards would have been even more formidable with Tulo. However, it is quite possible that their attempts to get Tulo came to nothing. There is no rule saying that teams like the Rockies (or the Orioles or the Padres or the Mariners) have to give their players to teams like the Cards (or the Cubs or the Yanks or the Sox).

            • bbmoney

              Bourjos bat >>>> than kozmas bat.

              • bbmoney

                Also bout his glove >>>>> kozmas glove

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Reduce those to one “>” each, and you are nearer the mark. At any rate, the run-differential of a Jay+Taveras OF will probably be better than that of a Bourjos+Jay OF.

    • YourResidentJag

      Something tells me though that Rockies holding onto to Tulo and CarGo is going to be a big mistake on their part, especially with that SP of theirs.

  • Rich H

    Am I the only guy that thinks that Tulo, Gigi or some glove first short stop is still a possibility for the Cards?

    Peralta could move back to 3rd to save his body.

    You would think that STL would think twice about a FA shortstop after their last huge money mistake.

    • cavemencubbie

      ??? What huge money mistake? Letting Pujol (sic) leave for the Angels?

      • Rich H

        Fucal

    • Rebuilding

      ??? Royce Clayton?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Also, the Cards had a glove-first SS in Kozma. They realized that his fielding was not saving them more runs than his bat was costing them. Yes, they won with Kozma: but they won in spite of him, not because of him.

    • Dave

      Mistakes happen when you are trying to win. Being passive and taking no chances in free agency seems to be many Cub fans new mantra.

  • Steve

    If the Cardinals sign Peralta, it’ll just another indication of how well the St. Louis organization has operated for numerous years. I’ve been a Cubs fan since 1952 and have observed the Cards add All-stars such as Orlando Cepada, Lou Brock, Bruce Sutter, Ozzie Smith, Matt Holiday, Carlos Beltran, Mark McGuire to their roster. It’s players like this that explains why they’ve won the 2nd most World Series championships.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    hey we got Lou imbroglio for brock

  • baldtaxguy

    Pretty impressive add to an already great team.

    Hate it, but well done, thy enemy.

  • mjhurdle

    I think this move signals to an extent that they know that Carpenter can’t continue being that much better a hitter in the majors than he ever demonstrated in the minors, and that Craig will not be in the OF.
    This is not the most popular move down here with the “best fans in baseball”. Mozeliak said their priority this off-season was finding a young SS that they could pencil in for the next few years. I think the trade of Freese forced their hand and they needed to grab offense from somewhere.
    Last year, their offense was Beltran, Holliday, Carpenter and Molina; combined with everyone else on their team hitting over .300 with RISP.
    Beltran is gone, and maybe the confidence that Carpenter can continue to be a dramatically better hitter in the majors than he was in the minors has declined some.
    The expectation is that Craig mans 1B, because playing OF regularly will just increase the chances of him getting injured yet again. That means Adams is a bench player again.
    Will be interesting to see how this works out. Not sold this is a huge upgrade for them yet.

  • aaronb

    Peralta is suspended without pay if he fails a 2nd test. Maybe that lessens the risk for the Cards?

    • Jason P

      Maybe, but now that he has the big contract, the incentive to cheat is gone.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Cards so everything right, but man I don’t get Peralta. He is an awful defensive shortstop. Why not stick with Kozma or go trade for a good gloveman? Do they really need a bat at shortstop? Strange. And the money makes it even stranger. Wow

  • Mike F

    He’s probably going to move to 3rd and they still will trade Wong and one of their young pitchers for a SS. I would send them Castro for Wong and Miller. Would be a great trade for both teams and really work. But the word in StL is they will add another SS. I just don’t think Theo will be dealing with them.

  • Ivy Walls

    Looks desperate to me, they are trying to improve on the margins, trading Freese and signing Perolta….they are losing a SP and a RF’er, baseball is not linear in trends, teams fall fast and ascend faster, while if you miss your window it is gone forever….

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