Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tackled questions from a number of fans earlier today and addressed a wide number of topics pertaining to the team’s offseason. First and foremost, Goold reports that he’s heard “more and more… how the Cardinals see trade opportunities as their preference” in their search for a center fielder. Specifically, he mentions Charlie Blackmon and Adam Eaton as speculative possibilities, though it personally strikes me unlikely that the Sox would deal Eaton. Blackmon has been an oft-rumored trade candidate over the past few seasons and will be again this winter with a projected arbitration salary of $9MM and a surplus of left-handed outfield bats in Colorado (Blackmon, David Dahl, Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra). Regarding Dexter Fowler, Goold notes that the Cardinals typically shy away from committing lengthy free-agent contracts to players on the wrong side of 30, downplaying the team’s potential interest.
More from Goold’s Cardinals rundown…
- Goold characterizes a significant investment into a starting pitcher as unlikely, noting that last winter’s pursuit of David Price was considered by the team to be a “special situation.” That type of opportunity isn’t present on this year’s free-agent market, though he does note that the Cardinals would consider Chris Sale a similarly “special” situation if he were to be made available on the trade market. That’s far from a guarantee, of course, as the White Sox could opt to take aim at contending once again in 2017.
- The Cardinals will be without left-hander Zach Duke for all of the 2017 season due to his recent Tommy John surgery, and Goold rattles off a number of internal replacements without making mention of the team potentially pursuing outside help. Among the candidates are Tyler Lyons, Marco Gonzales and “sleeper picks” Corey Littrell and Ryan Sherriff, each of whom is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
- St. Louis will pursue other options early in the offseason as opposed to exploring a reunion with Brandon Moss, per Goold. If the team is unable to acquire a center field upgrade and Moss lingers on the free-agent market, a fallback would be signing Moss to play left field and keeping Randal Grichuk in center field.
- Despite a midseason demotion to Triple-A Memphis for Kolten Wong, the St. Louis front office remains “bullish” on the 26-year-old and would like to see him get a prolonged look at second base in 2017. According to Goold, there’s long been a separation between the front office and the manager when it comes to dividing playing time, but there was an agreement in place late in the season that Mike Matheny would give Grichuk an extended look in center field down the stretch. Wong could be the beneficiary of that same extended stint despite his disappointing April and May in 2016. For what it’s worth, Wong did hit .251/.341/.401 in 217 plate appearances following his recall from Triple-A.