The Cardinals just wrapped up their third straight season without a playoff berth, which is all the more concerning given that team control is dwindling over Yadier Molina (two years), Matt Carpenter, Miles Mikolas, Marcell Ozuna, Michael Wacha (one year apiece) and Adam Wainwright (pending free agent), as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out. The Redbirds are cognizant of the fact that the 36-year-old Molina won’t be around forever, chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said this week, adding: “Our timeframe with this club is now. It has been that way literally every year for many years.” There’s now a “palpable” impatience atop the St. Louis hierarchy, according to Goold, who reports that the Cardinals are poised to seek left-handed relief upgrades and left-handed power for their lineup this offseason as they work to snap a three-year playoff drought in 2019. The Cards have pitching depth to dangle in trades and plenty of money to spend, Goold notes, so it figures to be an active winter for the club.
Here’s more from the National League:
- While nothing’s official, it’s “pretty clear” pending free-agent reliever Joaquin Benoit will retire, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com writes. The 41-year-old Benoit joined the Nationals on a $1MM guarantee last winter, but a shoulder injury prevented him from throwing a pitch for the team during the regular season. Had Benoit been younger, he likely would have undergone surgery and then rehabbed his way back, general manager Mike Rizzo said last week. Understandably, though, Benoit doesn’t want to fight through a lengthy recovery period at his age. If the journeyman’s career is over, it’ll conclude with a 3.83 ERA, 212 holds and 53 saves over 1,068 2/3 innings.
- Fresh off a rough season, Giants second baseman Joe Panik’s future in San Francisco is uncertain, considering the team’s next head of baseball operations may opt for someone else at the keystone, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports California observes. Panik realizes as much, telling Pavlovic: “It’s all about whoever comes in and who they feel is the best fit for the organization going forward. You hope it’s you, but at the end of the day, it’s not your call.” Although the soon-to-be 28-year-old Panik batted a non-threatening .254/.307/.332 (75 wRC+) with four home runs in 392 plate appearances this season, he’s likely to score upward of $5MM during his second-last arb trip during the winter, Pavlovic writes. That’d be a solid raise over the $3.45MM Panik pulled in this year. As for his disappointing 2018, during which he missed time with thumb and groin injuries, Panik offered: “Once I went down with the thumb, I feel like I could just never get it back. It’s hard to explain to people … when your season is kind of choppy and broken up, it’s hard to sometimes find your rhythm. But when it comes down to it, you still have to find a way.”