The Cardinals weren’t one of the league’s better-hitting teams in general last season, and in particular struggled against right-handed pitching. For that reason, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com’s Anne Rogers and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold) that “if we could find a way to get a little more lefthanded, we would be encouraged to do that. So, I think people feel that they’re a little too lefthanded [in their lineup] then it might make sense for us to be talking.” Mozeliak hinted that the Cards would prefer to add a lefty bat in a trade rather than through the free agent market, though trade talks have been “slow” to date.
To this end, Goold reports that the Cardinals have been looking to add a left-handed hitting outfielder in exchange for a package that would include at least one of their young right-handed hitting outfielders. Looking at such players on the Cards’ 40-man roster, Harrison Bader, Jose Martinez, Yairo Munoz, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, Randy Arozarena, Adolis Garcia, and Rangel Ravelo are all either full-time outfielders or at least have some outfield experience, leaving St. Louis with a wealth of possible trade chips for trades large or small.
By contrast, the Rangers are a team with a surplus of left-handed outfielders, and Goold reports that Texas and St. Louis have indeed been in talks. The Cards’ ideal acquisition would be both relatively inexpensive and capable of playing every day. The latter issue could keep the Cardinals from pursuing someone like the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, in Goold’s view, given Pederson’s struggles at hitting lefty pitching (though I would submit that the Cards would certainly seem to have enough right-handed hitting depth to find a platoon partner for Pederson in center field).
Of course, the Cardinals would get an immediate boost against right-handed pitching if their most prominent left-handed hitter returned to his old form after a disastrous 2019 season. Mozeliak revealed that Matt Carpenter has begun an offseason training program to add both weight and strength, after tests from the performance department revealed that Carpenter declined in both areas over the course of the season. “He’s one of those types of players that has a hard time holding weight,” Mozeliak said. “One of the things that we’ve tried to do this offseason is find a strength program that we think could work for him so he can maintain that. As the season unfolds, it’s something that we’ll need to be conscious of and intentional about to try to keep that up.”
In addition to their search for lefty bats, the Cardinals are still interested in a very prominent right-handed bat in Marcell Ozuna. Mozeliak felt his club was “still in the game,” for the free agent slugger, saying “we’re not closing any doors. Doors may get closed, but it’s not our doing.” The Reds, Braves, Rangers, Diamondbacks, and White Sox have all been mentioned as interested parties in the Ozuna market, and with reports indicating that the bidding could go as high as five years, it seems hard to imagine St. Louis is willing to truly break the bank to re-sign Ozuna. Since Ozuna rejected the qualifying offer, the Cardinals will obtain an extra pick (roughly between the 75th-85th overall selections) in the 2020 draft should Ozuna sign elsewhere.