Should The St.Louis Cardinals Resign Their Aging Veterans?
The St. Louis Cardinals will have a difficult decision to make during the winter of 2013. Although their focus is currently on making the post-season, as is should be, the Redbirds will have to contemplate the pros and cons of resigning some key free agents. Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, and Rafael Furcal will all be free agents after the 2013 season has run its course. Beltran is currently enjoying a productive season for a St. Louis team that should make the post-season. Carpenter has apparently suffered a setback in his attempt to rehabilitate a lingering arm issue that has prevented him from making an appearance this season; the same injury which limited him to a total of six appearances during the 2012 regular and post-season combined. Furcal has missed all of the 2013 season after sustaining an elbow injury to his throwing arm that also landed him on the disabled list for the last month of the 2012 regular season as well, as the 2012 post-season.
Beltran’s situation has been complicated by the recent statement that he would like to play 3-4 more seasons and by the slowed progress, due to injuries, of the heir apparent to Beltran; Oscar Taveras, who is currently playing for the Triple A Memphis Redbirds. It had generally been accepted that Taveras was ready to take over Beltran’s position in right field beginning in 2014, but a nagging ankle injury has raised some concern that it might be worth resigning Beltran for one year to allow Taveras another full season at Memphis to further hone his skills. However, the Cardinals would not likely be willing to offer Beltran a deal for more than one season; especially at his current price tag of $13 million per season.
Furcal’s salary for this season was $7.5 million so he has likely seen his last days in a St. Louis uniform due to the emergence of Pete Kozma as a reliable defender who has also provided adequate offensive production from the No. 8 spot in the batting order. Carpenter’s situation might be a little more prickly, given his long tenure with the team and the success he has had both in the regular season and the post-season while wearing a St. Louis uniform. However, Carpenter is 38 and he has been plagued with injuries throughout his career. It would be nice to think he has one more rebound from injury in him, but at his advanced age it just might not be feasible. Perhaps the Cardinals could bring Carpenter in to spring training next year as a non-roster invitee, assuming he is able to make progress recovering from his latest injury in the offseason, and if he is able to make the team offer him an incentive-laden contract based on innings pitched, quality starts made, etc. Certainly, it is not worth gambling another $12 million in salary on the health of Carpenter, which is what he has been paid the past two seasons with little return on that investment. His value to the Cardinals as a leader in the clubhouse, however has made him worth considering if he is healthy and willing to take a significant cut in pay.