- Standout Cardinals prospect Dylan Carlson had been set to play in the Arizona Fall League this year, but that plan has changed, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told Mark Saxon of The Athletic. The soon-to-be 21-year-old outfielder will instead stay in his native California to “work on adding strength,” Saxon writes, as Mozeliak doesn’t think there’s anything more for Carlson to accomplish on the field this season. Carlson, who tore up Double-A and Triple-A this year, could be on the fast track to a major league promotion in early 2020.
Marcell Ozuna will be a free agent for the first time in his career this winter, but the slugging corner outfielder doesn’t sound eager to play elsewhere next season. Asked by Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a possible return to the Cardinals in 2020 and beyond, Ozuna candidly replied: “That’s my priority. My agents just have to do their job.”
It’s not the first time that Ozuna has voiced a preference to remain with the Cardinals, but his most recent statements were more emphatic than previous comments on the matter. Hummel also chats with Ozuna about the excitement over his first pennant race before talking with Adam Wainwright about the team’s young arms, so Cards fans will want to check out the column in its entirety.
Ozuna will have age on his side in free agency, as he won’t turn 29 until November. He also may have rediscovered the pop he lost during a 2018 season that was marred by shoulder troubles; Ozuna slugged 37 homers with a .237 isolated power mark (slugging percentage minus batting average) in 2017 but managed to connect on just 23 round-trippers with a .153 ISO in 2018. This year, he’s batted at a .255/.333/.496 clip with 26 home runs and a .241 ISO through 465 plate appearances (but missed time due to fractured fingers). He’s also walking at a career-best 10.4 percent clip and has swiped a career-best 12 bases in just 13 attempts.
The Cardinals (and other interested suitors) will be tasked with determining whether improved health in Ozuna’s shoulder led to that restored pop or whether the reemergence of his power stroke is more closely linked to changes to the composition of the 2019 baseball that have resulted in a league-wide home run boom. Both have probably contributed to some degree, but each team could figures to have a varying view on the extent to which each of those factors has impacted Ozuna’s output. Those opinions and projections will inform the strength of offers he receives on the open market.
Another critical factor for Ozuna will be draft-pick compensation, as it seems probable that the Cardinals will issue him a one-year qualifying offer. This year’s QO will fall around the $18MM mark, but Ozuna and his reps at MDR Sports Management will likely feel that a more substantial guarantee awaits in free agency (even if it’s not quite at such a hefty annual value). Ozuna’s $12.25MM salary for the 2019 season has pushed his career earnings north of $26MM, giving him plenty of financial security if and when he declines the QO and explores the open market. Ozuna checked in at No. 8 on the July update to MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings.
Of course, it takes two sides to make a deal, and looking at the situation from the Cardinals’ vantage point, it’s less clear that an Ozuna reunion will be a priority. Dexter Fowler is still owed $33MM through 2021 (including the annualized payouts of his deferred signing bonus), and his $82.5MM contract included full no-trade protection. As such, he’s unlikely to be moved and can be expected to hold down one of the outfield spots in 2020 with a fair degree of regularity. Meanwhile, 24-year-old slugger Tyler O’Neill seems ready for a legitimate audition in left field, even if his strikeout issues remain a concern. St. Louis also has one of the game’s premier defenders in center (Harrison Bader), one of the game’s best outfield prospects (Dylan Carlson) and a slew of utility options/part-time outfield options.
Re-signing Ozuna could allow president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Mike Girsch the opportunity to trade from that impressive crop of outfield talent, but there’s an easy argument that the Cards are better off taking the draft pick and allocating those financial resources elsewhere. Both Wainwright and Michael Wacha will be free agents at season’s end — Wacha tells Hummel he’d also like to return — and the bullpen has been an ongoing need in St. Louis despite considerable front-office efforts to improve it. The Cardinals already have $139MM committed to the 2020 season, not including modest first-time arbitration raises for righties John Gant and John Brebbia. This year’s payroll sits at roughly $165MM, so it’d certainly be defensible to see them forgo a weighty annual salary for Ozuna and spend their remaining dollars to bolster the pitching staff.
Former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan passed away Friday after a prolonged battle with brain cancer. The son of former St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan and younger brother of former Yankee Shelley Duncan, Chris was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2012 and took a leave of absence from his ESPN radio show in January. He was 38 years old. MLBTR joins those around the game in expressing our deepest sympathies to the Duncan family.
The Cardinals organization issued a statement on Twitter: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Chris Duncan after his courageous battle against brain cancer. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, Amy, the entire Duncan family, and his many friends.”
Duncan played his entire career with the Cardinals from 2005 to 2009, finishing with marks of .257/.348/.458 across 1317 plate appearances and 389 career games. He hit 43 of his 55 career home runs over the 2006 and 2007 seasons, winning a World Series with the 2006 Cardinals. Duncan was a big part of that 2006 title team, as he chipped in a red-hot second half, hitting .295/.374/.604 with 19 homers after the All-Star break. Dave Duncan was the pitching coach for that ball club, helmed by Tony La Russa, which snuck into the playoffs with just 83 wins.
In recent years, Duncan became a popular radio personality in St. Louis, chronicled in a great piece about his passing by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Luke Voit trade (as it’s now known) barely drew any headlines when it was struck last July between the Cardinals and Yankees. Chasen Shreve was the best-known player in a deal that was viewed largely as two clubs dealing from positions of organizational depth.
Voit got a quick look with the Yankees before being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then returned in late August when the Yankees needed an extra bat after Didi Gregorius landed on the shelf due to a heel injury. His first two appearances in his second Yankees stint were of the pinch-hit variety, but he drew a start at first base on Aug. 24 and, in belting a pair of home runs that day, began a rapid ascension. Those two long ball were the first of seven in a 12-game span. By the end of the year, Voit had exploded with a .333/.405/.689 batting line and 14 home runs in just 148 plate appearances as a Yankee.
A huge showing in Spring Training and yet another Greg Bird injury locked Voit into a spot on the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. Meanwhile, Shreve was designated for assignment by the Cardinals late in camp and went unclaimed on waivers. The trade looked like an all-out heist for the Yankees.
Enter Giovanny Gallegos.
The least-known player involved in that July 28 swap, Gallegos didn’t distinguish himself much early in his Cardinals tenure. It’s true that he dominated in 16 2/3 innings with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate following the trade in 2018, but he made just two big league appearances in St. Louis (1 1/3 innings pitched) last season and didn’t even break camp with the Cards in 2019. When he did arrive in the Majors on April 11, Gallegos limped out to a slow start. He allowed three home runs and pitched to a 4.80 ERA through his first 15 innings this season. While the 25-to-5 K/BB ratio he posted in that time looked encouraging, Voit was at that point sitting on a .282/.382/.575 batting line and 24 home runs in 319 total plate appearances as a Yankee. The Cardinals drew plenty of criticism for the trade (including from myself).
That May 12 cutoff, admittedly, is rather arbitrary. But since that point, Gallegos has been one of the most effective relief pitchers on the planet. Over his past 46 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander has pitched to a pristine 1.35 ERA with a 56-to-7 K/BB ratio. He’s allowed only three home runs in that span — the same number he yielded in his first 15 innings — and held opponents to a .150/.194/.250 batting line (.193 wOBA) through 170 plate appearances.
Since that time, there’s not a single pitcher in baseball (min. 40 IP) who has been tougher to hit than Gallegos. That .190 wOBA is more than 30 points lower than the second-best pitcher in that same span (Boston’s Brandon Workman). He’s surely benefited from some good fortune (.206 BABIP, 90 percent strand rate), but Gallegos is also 11th in the big leagues with a 28.8 K-BB% in that time. He’s whiffed 32.9 percent of the batters he’s faced since that point and walked just 4.1 percent of them.
On the season as a whole, Gallegos is now boasting a 2.19 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and 0.88 HR/9. A 2.58 FIP and 2.70 SIERA support his emergence as a top-tier reliever. His 16.7 percent swinging-strike rate puts him on par with Max Scherzer and places him 11th among MLB pitchers with at least 50 innings thrown in 2019. Statcast indicates that Gallegos is in the 87th percentile of MLB hurlers in terms of fastball spin rate. He’s also in the 87th percentile in expected slugging percentage and the 97th percentile in both expected batting average-against and expected wOBA-against. While some higher-profile relievers have posted similar ERAs with the benefit of some smoke and mirrors, Gallegos’ success doesn’t look to be a fluke.
All of that is particularly good news for the Cardinals, because they can control the late-blooming 28-year-old all the way through the 2024 season. Gallegos won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2021 campaign; he’ll earn scarcely more than the league minimum in both the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. There’s no more volatile asset in Major League Baseball than relief pitchers, but for the time being, Gallegos has dominated enough to flip the narrative on last year’s trade. One can certainly still argue that the Cards would’ve been better off keeping Voit, but St. Louis was by no means left empty-handed and may even have come away from the exchange with a dominant bullpen anchor for years to come.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
It has only been four weeks, so it’s too soon to judge with finality how this year’s trade deadline maneuvers will play out. That said, we’re already half of the way through the period — the regular season portion, at least — for which rental players were acquired. Even players with future control are usually added first and foremost for their immediate contributions (though there are some exceptions). It’d be awfully premature to say anything conclusive about the prospect side of any deals, but we do now have some additional information with which to work.
So, that’s why we’re going to take a glance back over our shoulders at the moves (and major non-moves) that organizations made in the run-up to this year’s trade deadline. We already covered the AL Central; now we’ll go over to the National League’s middle division.
When the Cards dropped five of six games after the trade deadline, it looked as if they may be on the brink of a collapse. But the club recovered with a stirring, 19-5 run. So … what caused it? A big deadline blockbuster? Multiple, well-conceived additions? Not so much.
The only move the Cards made this summer was a roster-management swap in which they sent veteran infielder Jedd Gyorko to the Dodgers. He’s playing a limited role in L.A. and hasn’t yet done anything of note. Back in St. Louis, the Cards remain laden with position-player options. A deep September roster will help the club mix and match down the stretch, though cramming talent onto a postseason roster will be more difficult.
When the Cards held pat at the deadline, it was fair to wonder whether the team’s uncertain place in the standings was a significant factor. Now, there’s little question that the club has the inside track to a divisional appearance, if not more. It was arguable at the time that the club ought to cash in some of its many solid young assets in pursuit of a higher-end starter or center fielder. So far, the decision not to do so hasn’t hurt (far from it). We’ll see how it plays out over the final month and beyond.
The Cubbies’ biggest mid-season acquisition came not via trade, but by way of signing. But closer Craig Kimbrel hasn’t had the biggest impact. That honor would go to outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, who burst to life after being sent to Chicago. He carries a 1.060 OPS through thirty games. The move did cost two pitchers (Paul Richan and Alex Lange) that now feature among the top thirty or so Tigers farmhands. The former has shown well since the deal, carrying a 29:2 K/BB ratio over five High-A starts.
Also more helpful to this point than Kimbrel is veteran reliever David Phelps, who has been excellent since coming over. He has allowed just two earned runs in 13 appearances. That deal could still cost in the long run. It cost the Cubbies Tom Hatch, a Double-A starter who has compiled 35 1/3 innings of 2.80 ERA pitching with an intriguing 34:2 K/BB ratio since the swap.
A low-risk shot on Derek Holland hasn’t really paid dividends, as he wasn’t terribly effective before hitting the injured list. But he could still return and provide an important pen presence late in the season. Brad Wieck, acquired when the club gave up on Carl Edwards Jr., has added a bit of lefty relief depth. Edwards was knocked around before hitting the IL, so there aren’t any regrets there.
There was also a sort of hot-stove miniseries regarding the Cubs catching situation. The team added Martin Maldonado but then sent him on to the Astros for Tony Kemp. When starter Willson Contreras went down with a significant injury, the club picked up Jonathan Lucroy. The club was simply acting on the needs it had before it, but this series of moves hasn’t really worked out. Maldonado would be preferable to Lucroy at this stage of their respective careers; Kemp has struggled badly at the plate and doesn’t seem all that necessary to a roster with a wide variety of infield/outfield-capable players.
While the Cubs are now staring at a three-game deficit in the NL Central, they’ve moved into strong Wild Card position. It’s hard to say they realistically could or should have done much more at the deadline.
The Milwaukee org has fallen off the pace since the deadline, playing sub-.500 ball over the month of August. That drop coincided with the rise of the Redbirds … in spite of the fact that the Brew Crew front office was far more active on the trade market — and generally successful in unearthing value.
Adding Jordan Lyles, at the cost of pitching prospect Cody Ponce, has been a clear win to this point. The 28-year-old Lyles has a 2.51 ERA through six starts in Milwaukee. Ponce, a former second-round pick, could yet emerge but hasn’t done anything since the deal to suggest the Brewers made a big mistake by parting with him.
Improving the bullpen was also a key need and the Brewers accomplished that in their swap with the Giants. Lefty Drew Pomeranz has turned on the afterburners of late. Overall, he has allowed just four earned runs with a 22:7 K/BB ratio over 13 2/3 innings. Righty Ray Black has just two strikeouts in his 6 2/3 innings but has managed to keep opponents to just a pair of earned runs. It’ll be interesting to see whether former top prospect Mauricio Dubon makes the Milwaukee org pay for parting with him. He’d likely be playing a significant role there with Keston Hiura injured; instead, he’s getting a full MLB showcase with the Giants.
The Brewers’ other trade hasn’t yet added value but also hasn’t hurt much. Though Jesus Aguilar started out hot after the Brewers sent him to the Rays, he has fallen back to an unremarkable .279/.351/.412 overall slash with his new club. The hurler acquired in return, Jake Faria, has been knocked around a bit in three MLB appearances.
The Cincinnati front office turned in what was arguably the most interesting overall package of deadline moves. With only an outside chance at a postseason run this season, but a keen desire to contend as soon as possible, the focus was on the near-future.
First and foremost was the surprising move to bring in veteran righty Trevor Bauer. After picking up multiple short-term starters in the prior offseason, the Reds were in need of another reload entering 2020. In that respect, going for Bauer made for an early shopping trip. He has struggled quite a bit working to an 8.40 ERA in thirty innings, though he’s still sporting a 37:13 K/BB ratio. It just hasn’t been a great follow-up season for a pitcher who landed sixth in the Cy Young voting last year. The Reds are betting he’ll figure out how to return to dominance over the offseason.
The cost for Bauer was fairly steep. Outfielder Yasiel Puig is a pending free agent, but he could’ve been cashed in otherwise. Top prospect Taylor Trammell isn’t tearing up Double-A with the Padres organization, but remains a highly regarded player. And then there’s the other, least-known aspect of the swap. Lefty Scott Moss was pitching well before the swap but has impressed all the more since. He even overcame the treacherous International League in a late stint, allowing just four earned runs on a dozen hits with 23 strikeouts and eight walks in 18 2/3 innings.
Having picked up Bauer, the Reds proceeded to ship out pending free agent starter Tanner Roark. That helped cover the late-2019 salary of the new rotation piece and also landed the team a new prospect in recent second-round pick Jameson Hannah. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a shining season thus far for Hannah, who struggled to a .224/.325/.299 slash in 78 plate appearances after the deal.
Otherwise, the Reds don’t regret dumping Scooter Gennett, whose feel-good tenure in Cincinnati ended in bitterness. He didn’t last long in San Francisco. The club added righty Justin Grimm for depth, but he hasn’t been called upon.
The Pirates were within 2.5 games of the division lead as late as July 7th, but it has been an unmitigated disaster ever since. It was already clear that this wasn’t going to be the team’s year by the time the deadline hit, but that didn’t set the stage for a sell-off.
The deadline period ended up being rather quiet. After the aforementioned Lyles deal, the Pirates swapped Corey Dickerson to the Phillies for some international bonus capacity and a PTBNL. Something may ultimately come of the acquired assets — Ponce seems like a good bet to appear in the majors at some point — but it was hardly a moment of note.
It could’ve been different. The Pirates discussed Felipe Vazquez with the Dodgers and could’ve come away with some serious talent for the high-end reliever. The club also could’ve held trade talks on Starling Marte, Josh Bell, or others. But it’s also plenty understandable that the organization decided against rushing into a decision on such significant assets. The pressure of the deadline might’ve spiked Vazquez’s value, but it could also be that the Bucs can get as much or more by shopping him over the winter (if they decide to do so at all). There’s always injury risk, but he has only continued to excel. While there is an argument to be made that the organization ought to pursue a different direction after another disappointing season, the club still has every opportunity to do so after holding tight this summer.
We’ll track the flurry of notable callups as roster expand on September 1.
- The Mets promoted left-hander Daniel Zamora and right-hander Tyler Bashlor from Triple-A, and also selected the contract of second baseman Sam Haggerty. (The club posted a fun video on its Twitter account of the players receiving the news.) A 24th-round pick for Cleveland in the 2015 draft, Haggerty came to the Mets last winter part of the trade that sent Kevin Plawecki to the Indians. Haggerty began the year at low-A ball and worked his way up to the Show after posting a .907 OPS over 49 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.
- The Diamondbacks announced a slew of callups today. Most notably, the club has selected the contract of outfielder Abraham Almonte and recalled right-hander Jon Duplantier. Almonte, 30, has logged time as a reserve each of the past six seasons, to the tune of a career .237/.294/.367 slash (79 wRC+). Duplantier, one of the club’s top pitching prospects, has battled injury issues in recent years but offers a high-upside bullpen piece for the stretch run.
- The Rays’ September additions include a number of notable players, with Nate Lowe headlining a group of five call-ups. He’ll be joined by Peter Fairbanks and Daniel Robertson, among others.
- The Braves announced they’ve recalled utilityman Johan Camargo. Camargo was optioned after the club signed Adeiny Hechavarría to replace the injured Dansby Swanson at shortstop. Swanson’s back now, and Hechavarría is still on hand, so it’ll be a tough climb for Camargo, who’s mired in a dreadful season. He’s only a year removed from a productive age-24 campaign, though.
- The Padres will select the contract of right-handed reliever David Bednar, reports Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (via Twitter). The 24 year-old gets a little lost among the Padres’ loaded system, but he boasts a pair of plus offerings in his fastball and curveball, opine Kiley McDaniel and Eric Lognenhagen of Fangraphs. Despite a less-than-stellar reputation for his command, Bednar has dazzled in the Texas League this season, pitching to a 2.95 ERA with elite strikeout (35.8%) and walk (7.5%) numbers.
- The Indians announced today they have selected the contracts of Ryan Flaherty and James Hoyt. They’ve also recalled Eric Haase. Flaherty’s solid Triple-A work this year has earned him his seventh consecutive big league season, where he’ll serve as infield depth for the club down José Ramírez. Hoyt logged 72.2 innings with the Astros from 2016-2018 and offers right-handed bullpen depth, while Haase, 26, is a power-hitting catcher with contact issues.
- The Yankees announced they have selected left-hander Tyler Lyons. The veteran reliever just signed a minor-league contract with the organization a few weeks ago and adds depth to a loaded bullpen. Right-hander David Hale was transferred to the 60-day injured list to clear 40-man space. The Bombers also recalled right-handers Ryan Dull and Chance Adams and outfielder Clint Frazier.
- The Cardinals have selected catcher Joe Hudson, per a team announcement. The 28 year-old got into eight games last year with the Angels. He’s had a tough season offensively with Triple-A Memphis, slashing .223/.293/.411. Outfielder Lane Thomas was transferred to the 60-day injured list with a season-ending wrist injury. Anne Rogers of MLB.com tweets that veteran backstop Matt Wieters is day-to-day with a calf strain, so the club elected to bring Hudson and Andrew Knizner aboard to bolster their catching depth.
- The Brewers announced they have selected the contract of first baseman Tyler Austin. A former Yankee, Twin and Giant, Austin has a strong minor-league track record and brings some right-handed power, but has mustered only a .220/.288/.451 line in 556 career MLB plate appearances thanks to untenable strikeout rates.
- Top Astros prospect Kyle Tucker isn’t up yet, but he will be shortly, tweets Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Houston’s additional reinforcements will be announced tomorrow, Rome adds. The 22 year-old corner outfielder has again laid waste to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and has nothing left to prove at the minor-league level, but opportunities have been few and far between in the Astros’ loaded lineup.
- Just-acquired first baseman Ryan McBroom will be selected to the Royals’ active roster shortly, tweets Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. As Flanagan notes, the 27 year-old was likely to be added to the 40-man this offseason to protect him from the Rule V draft regardless, so there’s little harm in giving him his first taste of MLB action in the meantime. The former 15th-rounder has put up strong offensive numbers throughout his minor-league career, culminating in a .315/.402/.574 line in the Triple-A International League this season.
The Cardinals have made another outfield change, as MLB.com’s Anne Rogers reports on Twitter. Lane Thomas has been diagnosed with a fractured wrist, sending him to the injured list. Taking his place is Tyler O’Neill, who’s returning from his own IL stint.
It’s not yet known how long Thomas will be sidelined, but it certainly doesn’t sound promising. With only a month left in the regular season, it seems unlikely he’ll have time to heal and strengthen the joint in time to gear back up and return this year.
Thomas, a first-time major-leaguer who recently turned 24, has hit quite well in limited duties this year with the Cards. Through 44 plate appearances spread over 34 games, he’s slashing .316/.409/.684 with four long balls. He hadn’t been quite as productive at Triple-A, where his .268/.352/.460 batting line was actually slightly below the league average in the offensively stout International League.
Thankfully for the Cards, the loss of Thomas coincides with O’Neill’s return. O’Neill has yet to play this month owing to his own wrist injury. He’s sporting a .279/.316/.434 batting line over 136 plate appearances for the season. He’ll take up a spot in what figures to be a deep rotation of St. Louis position players down the stretch.
The Cardinals have released outfielder Drew Robinson, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). That opens a 40-man spot for the club, though it’s not clear yet how it’ll be utilized.
Robinson recently underwent season-ending elbow surgery, so he could have been placed on the 60-day injured list. But it seems the Cards have decided already that he would not hold a 40-man slot over the course of the offseason to come.
The 27-year-old Robinson, who was acquired from the Rangers over the offseason, appeared only briefly in the majors in St. Louis. He turned in solid offensive work at Triple-A, slashing .265/.385/.423 with six home runs, but obviously had not shown enough to force his way into the plans before the health issues cut short his campaign.
While the Cardinals appear to be more excited than ever about top outfield prospect Dylan Carlson, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the club isn’t giving consideration to promoting him to the majors in the month of September.
As ever, it should be noted that plans can always change. The 20-year-old’s present capabilities are already known well to the Cards, so he’s not likely to change the situation by his play. But it’s possible an injury or other development at the MLB level could create a surprise need.
As Goold notes, Carlson does not need to be added to the 40-man roster in advance of the December Rule 5 draft, so putting him there now would constrain the club. It seems only a run of misfortune involving existing players, or a major change of heart, would create the circumstances for a Carlson promotion. But we have seen that sort of thing occur, as when the Nationals surprisingly promoted Victor Robles back in 2017.
Regardless of how things shake out late in 2019, Goold says that the Cardinals will allow Carlson a full shot to compete in camp next year for a significant role at the major-league level. Service-time considerations and other factors will obviously weigh into the decision; the 20-year-old likely has a high standard to clear to head north out of camp.
While it would still rate as a surprise to see Carlson on the Opening Day roster, particularly if he doesn’t end up seeing any big-league time this year, it seems the St. Louis org isn’t shying away from putting expectations and dangling opportunity in front of the highly regarded prospect. Carlson has already laid waste to upper-minors pitching this year, turning in a .281/.364/.518 batting line at Double-A (which isn’t a hitter-friendly stop on the circuit) and slashing .385/.439/.654 since arriving at Triple-A (good for a 164 wRC+ even in the offensively prolific Pacific Coast League).
As president of baseball operations John Mozeliak puts it, Carlson “does it all” and is a “very complete player.” While prospect evaluators haven’t really hyped Carlson as one of the top pre-MLB players in baseball, Mozeliak says Carlson’s showing this year at Double-A suggests he’s “truly an elite player.”
The focus now is obviously on the Cards’ efforts to win a division title. But it’s hard not to look ahead. The club has already undergone immense change in the outfield in recent years and figures to have more on the way. Marcell Ozuna will be a free agent. Dexter Fowler will be a significant part of the mix (barring a trade). Otherwise, there are a large number of possibilities — Jose Martinez, Harrison Bader, Lane Thomas, Tyler O’Neill, Rangel Ravelo, Randy Arozarena, Adolis Garcia, and others — but little in the way of clear answers.
It’s likely some players will end up in other organizations, whether that occurs over the offseason or in Spring Training. Keeping Carlson off of the 40-man will help preserve options. But his presence in the organization could ultimately allow the Cards to be more aggressive in parting with other young outfielders, perhaps opening the door to improvements in other areas of the roster.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch held an interesting chat with Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. that’s well worth a full read for fans of the club. Pressed on the club’s decisionmaking after three-straight seasons without a postseason appearance, DeWitt did not cede any ground. He rejected any view that the club went cheap this summer, saying the organization remains among the higher-payroll outfits in the league. As for the current front-office leadership group, DeWitt did not seem inclined at all to consider significant change in leadership. “There is always accountability,” he said. “But keep in mind, we’ve had a pretty nice run of success under the current regime with 11 consecutive winning seasons, and when we have missed the playoffs it has been by a very small number of games.” As things stand in the 2019 race, the Cards have a strong chance of breaking their string of playoff absences. But the pressure will increase significantly if that doesn’t come to pass.