I’m not saying the St. Louis Cardinals are the ONLY team in the NL Central who present a roadblock to the Chicago Cubs stepping up next year in the division, but I do think they represent the best bet. So I follow their offseason machinations closely. Well, also the rivalry thing.
It’s not certain that the Cardinals will be among the big-time-spending teams this offseason, but I can imagine some needs they have, plus the retirement of Yadi Molina, and it’s not hard to see that they’ll probably make some significant moves.
To that end, Cardinals President John Mozeliak spoke today about some offseason items for the Cardinals, and they are certainly notable:
Taking each item in turn …
We’ve expected that the Cardinals would ultimately retain Nolan Arenado, even if he first opted out of his current contract. He’s underpaid, so it makes sense for him to take this opportunity – the Cardinals will have to pay a little more to keep him. That’s probably where this goes.
An increase in payroll is obviously nebulous, but if the Cardinals are going up from $170 million, they’ll have plenty to work with. The Cardinals right now look to be at about $140 to $150 million on paper for 2023, factoring in arbitration estimates. That gives them room sign a significant free agent or two, even after bringing Adam Wainwright back.
Lastly, the catcher thing. The Cardinals are looking for a starter, which is notable, because the market doesn’t have many obvious ones available. Willson Contreras is the biggest ticket, so we’ll see if the Cardinals actually pursue him. Guys like Christian Vazquez (who is a good Cubs fit), Omar Narvaez, Gary Sanchez, Mike Zunino, Austin Hedges, and more are available, but all come with varying degrees of “not quite a full-time starter.” It makes you wonder if the Cardinals will look at the trade market – maybe a big swing for a guy like Sean Murphy? (That would suck.)