The Cardinals are readying to face some potentially tricky decisions with regard to franchise stalwarts Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. While the organization is hoping for both to finish out their careers in St. Louis, a sentiment the players share, such arrangements are sometimes easier said than done. Extension talks are planned at some point this year with Molina, who remains a highly valuable workhorse behind the dish. The guaranteed portion of his contract ends after the season, with a mutual option looming. As Goold explains, it’s hardly a straightforward matter to reach a new deal; the question of how great a commitment the team wants to make will have to account for not only the valuation of an aging catcher, but also the rise of prospect Carson Kelly. As for Wainwright, who tells Goold he’ll only be interested in single-season contracts when his deal is up (after the 2018 season), there’s more time to see how things progress and less pressure given his position.
Here are a few more notes from the NL Central…
- Eric Thames will be the latest data point as teams try to project how star-level performance in the Korea Baseball Organization carries over to Major League Baseball, and Fangraphs’ David Laurila spoke to Brewers GM David Stearns about the factors that went into signing Thames. Stearns explained that improved plate discipline despite a vast increase in the number of breaking balls Thames saw in Korea played into the decision, as did a number of analytics processes and statistical projections. “As more players play in the KBO, or any other foreign league, and then come back to the States, projection systems are going to continue to improve,” said the Milwaukee GM. “Clearly, the translation of KBO stats to (MLB) stats isn’t as straightforward as translating a Triple-A environment to a Major League environment, but it still played a role in our evaluation.”
- MLB.com’s Adam Berry breaks down the value that Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli brings to the team with his ability to frame pitches. While Cervelli’s lack of pop might make his three-year, $31MM deal look questionable to some, Berry points out that per MLB’s Statcast data, Cervelli rated third in the Majors in total strikes “stolen” for his pitchers in 2015 and, in an injury-shortened 2016 campaign, ranked third once again on a per-pitch basis in that same category. The skill is hardly lost on the Pirates’ young pitchers, several of whom lauded Cervelli’s receiving abilities when speaking to Berry. “He makes every pitch look really good, even your bad pitches,” said Jameson Taillon. “”That’s a big confidence-builder.”