Are St.Louis Cardinals Finished With Offseason Moves?
As expected, the St. Louis Cardinals have been busy in the early weeks of the 2013 offseason. The free agent signing of Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta should provide the offensive upgrade the Cardinals were seeking in place of Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso at that position. In all likelihood St. Louis will keep either Kozma or Descalso as insurance at second base, shortstop, and third base, but it would be surprising to see the team keep both players in 2014. However, the acquisition of outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk from the Los Angeles Angels for third baseman David Freese and right-handed pitcher Fernando Salas, while potentially solving a couple of concerns, may well create a few problems that will have to be addressed in the coming months. First, Bourjos is presumably being brought in to compete with incumbent Jon Jay for the starting centerfield job in 2014.
However, top prospect Oscar Taveras was thought to be in line to contend for that spot when the Cardinals convene Spring Training activities in Jupiter, Florida next February. The trade for Bourjos would seem to make Jay expendable unless the Redbirds do not think Taveras is fully recovered from the ankle injury which plagued him during his 2013 season at Triple A Memphis. If Taveras is deemed to require more seasoning at the Minor League level then it is possible St. Louis would keep both Jay and Bourjos as outfield options in 2014.
In addition, it was widely thought that after the Cardinals decided not to sign Carlos Beltran to a long-term deal right field would be filled by either Taveras or Allen Craig in 2014. If Craig were to move from first base to right field that would then open a spot for Matt Adams to man first base on a regular basis. So as things stand right now there is a potential logjam in both right field and center field, as well as potentially first base, which the Cardinals will have to address before the 2014 baseball season gets underway. Fortunately, these are the kind of problems that are borne from having considerable depth within the organization rather than being issues resulting from a void in talent.
With the departure of Freese to the Angels conventional thinking would have Matt Carpenter moving to third base and opening up second base for prospect Kolten Wong in 2014 with either Descalso or Kozma backing up those two spots in the lineup. With the addition of Peralta, the Cardinals should then be set at third base, shortstop, and second base but until the outfield situation becomes clearer first base will be a question mark during the offseason. Again, this is not an unpleasant concern for the St. Louis front office to have to address, but it pretty much assures the starting lineup will look dramatically different for the 2014 edition of the Redbirds.
All the moves that have been made thus far by St. Louis have not jeopardized the depth of the team in any way, and there continues to be a surplus of pitching, both starting and relief, that could be used as trade chips if the Cardinals decide to make any other deals or pursue other free agent signings this winter.