Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cardinals logoThat’s a curious move.

According to multiple reports, the Padres are sending former top young player – and current ugly contract – to the Cardinals for outfielder Jon Jay, who’ll make $6.85 million in 2016 before hitting free agency. While I can see why the Padres would do this deal, to be unburdened of the $33 million left on Gyorko’s deal and pick up a solid defender for their rough outfield in the process, I’m not as clear why the Cardinals would do it.

My guess is that the Cardinals still see upside in Gyorko, and value his versatility. There could be a nice utility player in there, but he’ll have to be a very nice utility player to justify the contract. Perhaps the Padres will be eating some salary in the deal when it’s all said and done.

In the meantime, the Cardinals now have one fewer outfielder, which could justify┬áthem being even more aggressive on guys like Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon. I suppose it’s possible that picking up Gyorko could also allow the Cardinals to shop Kolten Wong for pitching if they were inclined, but that could wind up a considerable downgrade.

UPDATE: Sure enough, the official deal has been announced as Gyorko “and cash,” so that will wind up making this much more understandable for the Cardinals, depending on how much money is coming their way. They traded a reserve outfielder for a utility guy with upside. These things usually work out for the Cardinals.

UPDATE 2: The “cash” is actually a really substantial chunk:

That makes Gyorko a decently-price utility guy (in terms of AAV), with some downside risk but also with some upside. A fine move for the Cardinals, because of course it is.

UPDATE 3: Well, now, hang on:

Since Jay is far from dead money – he’s worth his salary, and probably then some – it’s not like the Padres are doing the Cardinals a favor here by taking on his contract. In other words, they’re not sending $17 million to the Cardinals. They’re sending just $9 million. That’s not nearly as compelling, and now I’ve swung back to: this is kind of a meh deal for the Cardinals.

(Someone in 2018 finds this post after Gyorko has won consecutive MVPs, shares it with the Internet. Brett’s career is ruined.)

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