At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold hit on a number of interesting topics, with short, digestible thoughts and answers that you’ll want to check out.
Within his slide show, Goold tackles topics like the outlook for Matheny, hiring Mike Maddux, going after Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson, and much more. Trust me, as a Cubs fan, you’ll want to click through it, for nothing else, to see some of the adorable questions Goold receives from Cardinals fans:
LOL. Just … LOL. pic.twitter.com/3zVMKAETX5
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) November 1, 2017
All jokes aside, there was one particularly interesting and repeating topic that could affect the Cubs in more ways than on this winter, and I really want to get into it: Who will be closing games for the Cardinals in 2018?
As you might remember, Cardinals reliever/closer Trevor Rosenthal hit the disabled list near the end of the 2017 season with an elbow injury later revealed to be a UCL tear, which required Tommy John surgery. The early guess is that he could return late next summer, but his effectiveness and availability at that point will be severely hampered and dependent on his surgery/recovery.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ other closer, Seung Hwan Oh, will officially become a free agent as soon as the World Series ends later tonight and is already 35 years old. Clearly, they need some help at the back of the bullpen, and according to Goold, they’re going to try to get it this winter.
But here’s where things get interesting.
Given the wildness in the Cubs’ bullpen this postseason (particularly from Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery), the expected exits of Wade Davis and Brian Duensing via free agency, the so-far, so-bad work from Justin Wilson, and the Cubs expected level of competitiveness next year, the Cubs need some back-end/closer help, too.
And, what do you know, it sounds like both NL Central teams have a bunch of the same names in mind.
In his responses to the bullpen questions, Goold suggests that the Cardinals could have interest in free agents Brandon Morrow, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland, as well as trade targets like the Rays Alex Colome. Each performed well in 2017:
Morrow: 2.06 ERA, 1.55 FIP, 2 Saves
Davis: 2.30 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 32 Saves
Holland: 3.61 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 41 Saves
Colome: 3.24 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 47 Saves
While Morrow may not have the closing experience of the other three, he’s obviously proven himself – when healthy – to be a high-quality and high-leverage reliever during both the 2017 regular and post-season.
The more important note here, of course, is that the Cubs have been connected to each of these relievers in the last year or so.
Morrow, of course, has been the Cubs’ first direct 2017-18 offseason bullpen rumor, even if he’s pitched way too much this October.
Davis was the Cubs closer this season and did very well in that capacity. Moreover, the front office has said that they’d love to have him back, if the two sides could find a way to make it work.
And although Colome’s name hasn’t quite been churning around the rumor mill in recent days, he was connected to the Cubs last winter and the Cubs and Rays continue to have a potential roster match for each other. (Also, the Rays’ outgoing pitching coach is set to be the Cubs’ incoming pitching coach.)
So will the Cubs and Cardinals be battling with each other for the services of the more desirable closing candidates this offseason? It certainly sounds like it, together with other teams seeking back-end bullpen help. And more than that, the Cubs’ own closer, Wade Davis, could find himself in the middle of an NL Central bidding war. While I’m not certain the Cubs should pay what it might take to get Davis back in Cubbie blue (just guessing based on last year’s monster closer deals), I don’t think I’d love to see him closing games down in St. Louis either.
I had a feeling this was going to be a busy/crazy offseason for the Cubs, but a bidding war (either in free agency or the trade market) over a closer with the Cardinals would pump that drama up a click.