The Cardinals front office is preparing for some austerity in the 2020-21 offseason, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak indicated to reporters including Mark Saxon of The Athletic (Twitter link). Details remain unclear, but Mozeliak left no doubt that payroll will decline.
The St. Louis organization already passed on a chance to retain second baseman Kolten Wong at a $12.5MM salary. That decision would’ve been a close in “normal” times, but came as little surprise in the current environment.
It seems fair to presume we’ll see wallet tightening around the game, but Mozeliak suggests the Cards may be uniquely impacted. COVID-19 closures have battered revenue in 2020 and left ample uncertainty for the ensuing season.
“Obviously, the success of the Cardinals the last 20 years has been our gate revenue. I do think we might be more negatively affected than others.”
It’ll certainly be interesting to see where the mainstay organization ultimately sets its payroll. In recent seasons, the Cardinals had carried Opening Day payrolls in the $160MM range.
The club is presently committed for just under $100MM in salary for 2021, with fairly minimal anticipated arbitration payouts to be added. It’s possible there’ll still be a fair bit of financial flexibility to work with, but a major paring of payroll would likely take the Cards out of the market for premium free agents.
Normally, I’d gloat about this, but I think the Cubs are going to do the same.
What kind of fan gloats about something like that?
Translation for the challenged:
KS’s mom appears to be a Cubs fan and seems to be indicating that they would normally love that their team’s division rival is making significant reductions in payroll. But not so much now as CBS May be doing the same.
But this is just how I’ve interrupted the post. Pardon me if I look to understand messages instead of quickly misconstruing.
*Cubs* not CBS
As a Yankee fan, I can tell you with confidence that having CBS own your team is not a good thing.
A Cubs fan.
If you can’t win playoff games, gotta win the most wasted payroll title!
We have that title, don’t worry.
Most teams are in the same boat.
What’s the $$ amount if we get rid of Mo?
Min19 – best question I have heard yet.
Replace the bow tie guy with someone who makes less. Let’s start there. Voit, Mercado, Arrozarena. See ya Mo.
Ahhhh yes Oscar Mercado, he of the 2 bWAR over 2 seasons. How dare Mo get rid of this gem
Jesus Christ, Cardinals fans hate Mo about as much as Rangers fans hate Jon Daniels lol.
He gets slammed for bad stuff (questionable trades/FA signings) and doesn’t get credit for good things (pitching development, consistent competitiveness).
Somebody on another thread mentioned how spoiled fans were by the Jocketty years, and I think that’s some of it. There’s a belief among some fans that the Cardinals should do whatever it takes to be a top 3 powerhouse every year and a belief among some other fans that the Cards should tank and rebuild a powerhouse (a la Astros and Cubs). I for one prefer to have a team that is consistently making the playoffs and, when they don’t, are playing meaningful baseball right up to the last week of the season every year.
That said, the Arozorena trade and the Carp/Fowler signings do sting (even the Ozuna trade….giving up Gallen and Alcantara was a lot for what the Cards ended up getting back).
consistency is good, but rings count.
Well Jocketty left in 2007 and the Cards won in 2011, so Mo has as many WS rings as alleged genius Andrew Friedman and only one fewer pennant. And the Cards have never come close to having the highest payroll in the league, something the Dodgers have certainly done more than a few times in the last decade.
I’m not sure what this comparison accomplishes, especially when it’s not entirety factual. Friedman has been to two more World Series or pennants, and has 1 WS win. He done so with both the Rays & Dodgers which are on different spectrums. Not only that, overseeing the biggest payroll was accompanied with trying to shed long term payroll.
Chief Two Hands
I don’t see why the Dodgers were brought into this at all. baseballpun just sounds bitter.
I don’t have anything against Friedman or the Dodgers at all. But Friedman would probably be considered the best GM in the game (top 3-5 I’m sure), while Mo gets maligned constantly, and their track records aren’t nearly as far apart as their respective levels of criticism would suggest.
Sure, but that was also inherited to some degree: still with Pujols, Carpenter etc.
Well said pun
Jocketty was a gm during a different period teams dumped big salaries for nothing. When he left to the Reds what did he do? Sign Scott Rolan?
jocketty wasn’t up dewitt fill in the blank either
Walt Jocketty got the Reds Aroldis Chapman at his youngest, and nabbed him right out from under the Yankees as he was first transitioning to the states. I can’t believe no one talks about this, and I’m not a huge Jocketty fan. The man wasn’t inept, though. Far from it.
I wholeheartedly agree, dump “Mo the PBO.” In the paraphrased words of Janet, “what has he done for the Cardinals lately?”
Blame COVID all you want. Wong’s money is going to Carpenter and Fowler’s bad contracts.
dave frost nhlpa
“Dear Cardinals Fans,
We have a good chance of winning more games than the Pirates next year!”
– John Mozeliak
The St. Louis Cardinals should be a powerhouse every year. Tony La Russa made sure that the Cardinals were a powerhouse every year. Then he left and everything had changed. Ownership is now more invested in the real estate around the ballpark (Ballpark Village, the Cardinal’s owner apartments, etc.) than the actual product playing in the ballpark. It is all about making money instead of going for a ring every year. The organization has betrayed its fanbase because money comes above all, including winning. It’s a damn shame.
I guess I’m still curious, how did La Russa “make sure” of that? I mean, they struck gold with Pujols for like nothing in terms of draft picks, but what was the formula? Always seemed a bit convenient for me as a Reds fan, admittedly.
I believe La Russa wasn’t a puppet manager like Mathenty or Shildt. It seemed like he wasn’t just going to roll over and listen to whatever the front office told him to do. I think he challenged the front office to make sure that Pujols had a great group of players around him. Something hasn’t been right in St. Louis since he’s left.
Front offices aren’t stupid anymore. They don’t trade MVP candidates like a Rolen or an Edmonds for peanuts anymore. Rolen at his peak (preinjury) was a 6-7 WAR player with a 9 WAR peak. That’s Mookie Betts at 3B. Now compare how much the Phillies got for Rolen to the package the Red Sox got for Betts and it tells you all you need to know about the difference in the current front office environment.
Placido Polanco, Bud Smith, and Mike Timlin for Rolen and a minor league pitcher. Philly even sent cash to offset some of Rolen’s salary. There isn’t a front office in baseball that is dumb enough to make the deal now unless LaRussa gets to exercise GM powers in Chicago that is.
Edmonds on the brink of an MVP break out for Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy….no one does that today.
You’re wishing into the past for a time that doesn’t exist anymore.
I don’t know if you know that teams tend to trade their players that are in the the final year or two of a contract. Rolen (contract up in 2002, traded during that season)and Edmonds(contract up in 2000, traded in the offseason before)were both close to the end of their contracts with their teams. You’re right that times have changed but it’s not me wishing for the past. The ownership group of the Cardinals knows they will make money because people will come and watch baseball and spend money. They also know they don’t need to put the best team possible on the field though. As long as the product on the field is just good enough to push for a playoff spot, they’re ok with it.
That’s a good point. The Cardinals’ murderers’ row of Pujols/Rolen/Edmonds etc did arguably exist in the last phase of the baseball dark ages.
Haha It wasn’t La Russa, it was Walt Jocketty.
La Russa was a major part of why they remained a consistent World Series contender every year. I will be very surprised if he’s a yes man to the White Sox front office if he does get that job.
Losing Wong would be a shame.
Cardinals ownership claims baseball industry isn’t very profitable.
Expecting them to tighten up the purse until after a few months of games with fans can happen.
Any 2021 games without fans will result in the Cards speeding up their transition to a Rays/Athletics model.
They’re already quite close with a decent amount of cheaper talent that could smooth the whole process out.
Is there another Molina on the horizon? That would really help.
After Yadi, things could get bleak for Cards fans.
Does he make the pitching better or am I giving him too much credit?
it’s sure not profitable when the front office and owner make bad decisions about what goes on on the field
I’m not sure where this “decent amount of cheap talent” is. Yes, they have a lot of cheap, young players, but the level of talent demonstrated so far isn’t close to what the Rays and A’s have. Of course, having the support of an entire region of fans helps with the payroll.
Mo makes a reasonable argument about the lack of fans hurting the Cards more than some teams, but that’s papering over the suboptimal results of recent trades and extensions.
The Cardinals never have the 4-5 season long lulls of non=competitiveness that the Rays and As do to get top draft picks either. The Cardinals highest draft pick in the last decade has been 19th and that was in 2013. They usually draft well into the 20s because they are competitive every year.
Apologies for not including the legend to interpret my wording easier.
This may be a stretch, but I feel like the Cards have close to 10 players that are on cheap contracts and talented enough to make the 26 man roster for 2021.
Flaherty, Reyes, Gomber, Cabrera, Gallegos, Gant, Carlson, Bader, Dejong, and it starts getting pretty borderline to me around here. Couple more will likely do alright and a couple will likely flop. Edman, O’Neill and there’s probably some younger talent but I don’t study the Cards regularly so I won’t go there.
As these guys get expensive, hurt or exposed, others will likely fill their spots.
They could speed up a transition to a Rays/As model was my thought, they are definitely not there yet. Look to be aimed that way from my outsider baseball fiend perspective.
Knizner projects just as well as Yadi at this point just in a different way. Yadi is all defense with a below average bat. Knizner has the potential for an above average bat and average defense. If they do ahead with the electronic strike zone then Knizner is likely much better than Yadi at this point.
If they aren’t going to do anything FA wise they better play their top prospects to make next year at least watchable.
La Russa could force the FO hand. Look at how many former A’s joined the Cardinals right after he became manager: Gallego, Stottlemyre, Eckersley, Honeycut in 1996, then McGwire in 1997. He and Jocketty had worked together prior, so La Russa was kind of like Whitey in the 1980s; even as the manager, he had sway in general manager decisions, even towards the end of his tenure. He made them cut Adam Kennedy in favor of having Skip Schumaker as the starting 2B in 2009; who had never played an inning of 2B professionally. He basically forced the Rasmus trade; which somehow led them to winning the WS.
At most, then, it sounds like La Russa was half of a highly successful tandem that existed, in part, due to happy timing.
and someone named pujols
This is all on MO….he signed the bad deals of Carpenter/Fowler etc. and trading Alcatara, Gallen, Voit and Arozerena. Other GM’s have made a fool out of him.
Hindsight is 20/20. No one expected this kind of play from Gallen, Arozerena, and especially Voit. Gallen was considered a decent, but not great, prospect at the time of the trade. Same goes for Arozerena. Voit wasn’t even really on the prospect map at any point of his minor league career. His development has been shocking. Only Alcantara was considered a blue-chipper by all the “experts” at the time he was traded, and he’s done fairly well so far. The others have far exceeded all reasonable expectations, and I don’t think you can blame that on MO if since no one else saw this coming either. Chalk those 3 up to bad luck for the Cardinals organization. It happens.
The Fowler and Carpenter signing/extension may be a different story, though. I never understood why anyone thought Fowler was anything special. Very average player and easily replaceable. Carpenter had a fluke year or two towards the back end of his prime years, so that should have been a big red flag.
The only thing I’d take away from any prospective trade with Tampa Bay is to pull the guy they ask for as a “throw-in” off the available list immediately.
No one saw Arozarena or Gallen coming. Most evaluators had Gallen as a reliever long term or at best a #5 starter/longman. Voit was a 28 year old organizational filler 1B.
Alcantara was the best of that bunch and he’s about what the evaluators thought he’d be.
Arozarena made the Cards playoff roster in 2019. How was he a throw in? .
The Rays pounced when his value dropped after leaking a clubhouse video was the feeling that I got.
The Cards do have a 20 year old LHP in the system now to show for it. And they saved some money by including the real throw in- Jose Martinez?
Waiting on Liberatore before declaring a victor in that trade. Huge uphill battle already.
Carpenter used to have a month to six weeks a year of production where his stats came from. It would be amazing. Then the old, slow base clogging below average ballplayer comes back.He’s always been below average the rest of the season .
Knizner projects just as well as Yadi at this point just in a different way. Yadi is all defense with a below average bat. Knizner has the potential for an above average bat and average defense. If they go ahead with the electronic strike zone then Knizner is likely much better than Yadi at this point.
A big part of their success is hate receipts AND the MLB giving them more draft picks than most other MLB teams for no reason. And their hacking.
After 2020, I think many players are taking pay cuts.
The revenue from last season and short sample size will be make everyone a seller and few buyers
I know a lot of Cards’ fans like Kolten Wong and feel that his defense and clubhouse presence among other qualities make him a desirable part of this team. I don’t know of too many 2nd basemen who will make $12 mill for next season so I’m hoping to see him back on a multi-year deal once he has a chance to talk with other teams. I know he bought a nice house in the St. Louis area and has enjoyed playing here. It’s hard to imagine a ’21 Cardinals team without Yadi, Waino or Wong. I think we all gotta hope for a somewhat normal spring training and fans in the seats!
If the Cardinals Ownership can’t afford to sign quality impact players, and pay them accordingly, then they need to sell the club to someone who can afford to do so.