The Cardinals’ 2015 season came to an end this week after the team fell to the division-rival Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. That means that club’s immediate focus now becomes the offseason, and the chief question with which St. Louis figures to be faced is whether or not the team can re-sign Jason Heyward. Whether or note Heyward remains in St. Louis is up for debate, but GM John Mozeliak made clear today that the Cards want to bring Heyward back into the fold on a long-term deal, writes MLB.com’s Jen Langosch. Heyward “was a tremendous fit on this club [and] did exactly what we wanted him to do,” said Mozeliak, who added that the team’s wait for a Heyward decision in free agency won’t handcuff its other offseason pursuits.
A few more notes on the Cards as they gear up for the winter…
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also has a breakdown of issues discussed by Mozeliak when talking to the media today. The GM gave good news when it comes to young right-hander Carlos Martinez, revealing that there are no plans for the 24-year-old to undergo surgery to repair his ailing shoulder. Rather, he’ll spend the offseason at the team’s spring complex in Jupiter, Fla. and go through what Goold terms a “more regimented” offseason under the guidance of the club’s training staff.
- Also from Goold, the Cardinals have interest in bringing Brandon Moss back for at least a bench role. “Obviously Moss was someone we acquired because we like his power potential and we like his flexibility he gives you being able to play outfield or first,” said Mozeliak. “He’ll have a spot at some point.” The question facing the Cardinals when it comes to Moss, I’d imagine, is whether they can find a way to bring him back at a cheaper price. Moss earned $6.5MM in 2015 and is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $7.9MM in 2016. That seems too expensive for a part-time player with limited defensive upside.
- Mozeliak was more vague when it came to the team’s interest in retaining outfielder Peter Bourjos. Acquired from the Angels alongside Randal Grichuk in the 2013-14 offseason, Bourjos has received inconsistent playing time and undergone hip surgery since his acquisition, either of which may have contributed to diminished performance. “As far as Peter goes, I don’t think it ever worked to the point where we were hopeful of,” Mozeliak explained. “That doesn’t mean we’re at the point to give up either. We’ll reassess and look at what our opportunities look like over the next six weeks or so.” Bourjos is projected to earn an affordable $1.8MM in arbitration, but with Matt Holliday, Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Jon Jay and Tommy Pham all in the fold, it’s certainly easy to envision him being traded to another club. (Moving Holliday to first base, Mozeliak said, isn’t a consideration.) A non-tender strikes me as unlikely, simply because Bourjos’ defensive ceiling is so high. A team in need of center field options such as the Brewers, Indians, Mariners or Padres would make some sense to me as a fit.
- Tyler Lyons or Marco Gonzales could emerge as left-handed relief options in next year’s bullpen, according to Mozeliak (via Goold). The Cardinals like the idea of using either in the bullpen because they’d be less-specialized options than Randy Choate was over the past few seasons.
- As Langosch notes, the team hasn’t made a decision on Jaime Garcia’s $11.5MM option, but the Cardinals feel he exceeded their expectations in 2015. “You think back to Garcia, and the impact that he made on our roster was extremely positive,” said Mozeliak. “If we were having this conversation in February, I don’t think any of us would have thought he was going to contribute, especially the way he did.” I’d expect the option to be exercised, especially considering Mozeliak’s August comments on Garcia.
- Don’t expect many (or any) changes in the Cardinals dugout, as Goold writes that the entire coaching staff has been invited back for the 2016 season.
- Bernie Miklasz of 101 ESPN examines the difficulties of managing in the social media era as part of a lengthy piece on manager Mike Matheny. While Miklasz notes that he has often been critical of Matheny himself, he also opines the onslaught of criticism Matheny received during the NLDS wasn’t necessarily deserved, as Matheny alone was not the reason for the Cardinals’ early exit from the playoffs.