St. Louis Cardinals incumbent third baseman Jedd Gyorko’s power has diminished each of the last three seasons and it may be time to find a replacement, opines Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. It promises to be an important subject for the organization over the offseason.
Gyorko has provided valuable versatility for the Cards, seeing time at all four infield positions the last three years. His OBP has risen each year in St. Louis (.306 to .341 to .346), but his power output has gone the other way (.253 ISO to .200 to .154). On the whole, Gyorko’s proven a good gamble since his somewhat-surprising acquisition from the Padres in 2015 – and though he’s not known as a defensive stalwart, defensive metrics are less certain, crediting Gyorko with 24 DRS and 4.9 UZR at third base since 2016. Contractually, he’s guaranteed one more season at $13MM before a team option in 2020.
Finding a player that complements Gyorko’s skill set may be the judicious solution in the short term. The Cardinals front office is said to be “on the edge of giddy” about three third base prospects in their system who could be ready by 2020: Elehuris Montero, Nolan Gorman, and Malcom Nunez.
Gorman was listed as the Cardinals 6th ranked prospect by Baseball America, but the 20-year-old Montero will likely reach the big leagues before Gorman or Cuban-born Nunez, who is only seventeen years old. Montero tore through the Midwest League in 2018, hitting .322/.381/.529. After 24 games in High-A with the Palm Beach Cardinals, the 19-year-old could reach AA sooner rather than later.
For next season, Gyorko’s role is not likely to change a whole lot – save for possibly in volume. Matt Carpenter started 74 games at third this year, but the Cardinals seem to prefer him on the right side. Top catching prospect Carson Kelly could be an option in short stints, as he played the position in 2013. He hit .269/.378/.395 in AAA and is ostensibly blocked behind the plate by Yadier Molina – but that feels more like a plan D than a plan A.
This year’s free agent class does provide a few palatable options. Bringing home World Series hero David Freese for a season would be a fun retro choice. Mike Moustakas’ name has been thrown out there as a potential stopgap solution as well. Then there are the big names – Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado. It’s unclear if the Cardinals are ready to commit the years and dollars to snag one of the elites, but regardless of the path they choose – they have options.
Check out the 2018-19 MLB Free Agent Tracker for a full list of upcoming free agents.