Though the Cardinals have a deep mix of rotation candidates, Bernie Miklasz of The Athletic explores the uncertainty surrounding many of those arms in a call for the St. Louis organization to pursue free-agent lefty Dallas Keuchel (subscription required). The Cards can’t know what to expect from Adam Wainwright, Miklasz writes, and the recent shoulder troubles for Carlos Martinez have raised some questions as well. Michael Wacha, too, has had his share of injuries in recent seasons and made only 15 starts in 2018. And while ballyhooed prospect Alex Reyes has a sky-high ceiling, he’s pitched just four innings across the past two seasons (27 frames, including the minors) and will obviously be limited in ’19 as a result. Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas each have just one season of MLB success under their belt, and the depth options for the rotation are even less established.
Furthermore, each of Mikolas, Wacha and Wainwright are free agents next winter, creating some potential needs down the line. Miklasz does write, however, that the Cardinals are “confident” of reaching an extension with Mikolas. Both sides expressed interest in such a deal late last month.
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- Mike Moustakas met with reporters upon his arrival at Brewers camp this week to discuss his offseason and his new position: second base (video link courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). “It’s going to be fun,” said Moustakas of playing second base. “Obviously, it’s going to be new. I’ve been over there a couple of times in the shift, so it’s kind of comfortable at this point. … Me and Counsell talked about — even last year, we talked about it when I got traded over.” Moustakas had no gripes about being asked to make the switch even though last season it was Travis Shaw who slid to second base. Rather, he touted Shaw’s “phenomenal” glove at the hot corner and voiced trust in the Brewers’ data/analytics department to help position him for success at his new spot on the diamond. There are, of course, some other intricacies to handle, though Moustakas noted that the middle infield isn’t totally foreign to him, considering he was drafted as a shortstop (and logged 561 innings there in the low minors from 2007-08). “…That double play is something we’re going to have work on and get used to, and cutoffs, relays — being in the right position. I’ll get the hang of it.”
- Because the Reds have yet to add a true center field option to the roster, Scott Schebler is among the top options to break camp in that role, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The 28-year-old does have a nominal amount of experience at the position, having logged a combined 358 innings there across the past three seasons. “I’m interested to see him in center,” rookie manager David Bell said to Sheldon. “Everyone I’ve talked to that has seen him, people are confident that he can do it. I am, too, but it’ll be a good opportunity to see him out there. I’m convinced he can be really good in left and right.” Schebler will have some competition for the center field gig in the form of Yasiel Puig and top prospect Nick Senzel, though Senzel played in only 44 games last season due to a fractured finger and vertigo symptoms; he was also forced to sit out the Arizona Fall League after undergoing elbow surgery.
- Cole Hamels’ return to the Cubs all but eliminated Mike Montgomery’s chances of opening the season in the team’s rotation, but Montgomery nonetheless tells MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian that he was “rooting” for the team to retain Hamels. Montgomery will return to a role with which he’s quite familiar — one that requires him to be ready to start, pitch in high-leverage spots late in games and also to enter in multi-inning stints as needed. “Be a guy that can start 20 games or close 20 games, because it has to be [that way],” said Montgomery. As Bastian notes, Montgomery not only started 19 games in Chicago last season, he also entered the game in eight different innings as a reliever and pitched multiple innings of relief on seven occasions. The versatile lefty is controlled through the 2021 season and will earn $2.44MM in 2019 as a first-time arbitration-eligible player.