Now that the St. Louis Cardinals have completed the task of finding a new centerfielder in Dexter Fowler, what is next on General Manager John Mozeliak’s off-season checklist?
Could a big free agent bat like Edwin Encarnacion or Mark Trumbo be next to be added to the lineup?
“I think for us it’s probably going to be looking more like at complimentary pieces to what we currently have,” Mozeliak answered. “There’s no doubt we still have some work to do but in terms of maybe making something even…like a bolder type move of where we’re at, I don’t envision that at this time.”
One such complimentary piece would be that of back-up catcher. With Mozeliak having already expressed the team’s desire to likely have Carson Kelly continue to play everyday at Memphis, that leaves a need for someone behind Yadier Molina on the 25-man roster. Alberto Rosario could be one such candidate.
So too could be Erik Fryer, who was with the Cardinals last year but was caught in the roster crunch of Brayan Pena’s brief return from the disabled list.
Another backstop the Cardinals have had interest in before is Kurt Suzuki, who spent the last three seasons in Minnesota.
But as has been the case in the past, besides the financials, playing time is a consideration for any catcher looking at coming to St. Louis.
Though he turned 34-years old, Yadier Molina set a new personal best with 1218.1 innings caught behind the plate last season. He also had 534 at-bats. The rest of the Cardinals catchers combined for 103 at-bats.
Even for a player like Suzuki, who only had 348 at-bats in 2016, he would be looking at significantly reduced playing time.
Going back to first base, if Matt Carpenter is indeed going to be playing there everyday, that leaves a question mark in regards to Matt Adams. If he is dealt, a left-handed bat for the bench is something that will be needed for the roster.
“I didn’t speak directly with Matt, I spoke with his agent just to give him a heads up,” said Mozeliak near the end of last month. “Clearly, putting Carp at first does not help Matt’s playing time. I would imagine between now and the time we leave Winter Meetings there’s going to be a lot of activity and his name will come up a lot.
“I think for us, I wouldn’t mind having him on our bench but I certainly understand if somebody’s looking for him to get more playing time, we would certainly owe it to him to try.”
Adams hit .249 with 16 HRs and 54 RBIs last season in only 297 at-bats. At 28-years old and headed into his sixth season on the big league roster, it’s understandable that Big City might like to have a bigger role than that of a bench player.
“Without a doubt–and the reason is because you’re playing career is so short,” said Mozeliak. “You only have so many years of earning power and you want to take advantage of it. When you’re in your mid to late 20’s, that’s the time you need to be doing that so I understand that and I actually respect that. We try not to put a player in a position where they’re not actually growing, but there are times where we have to put organization first but we try to balance that with giving players the maximum opportunity if possible.”
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