- Various injuries have prevented 25-year-old Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes from realizing his vast potential, but it appears he’ll enjoy “a normal offseason progression” this winter, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Reyes, once among the game’s elite prospects, had an outstanding debut over 46 innings in 2016. He then missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, threw 27 innings in 2018 (four in the majors) as a result of surgery to repair a tendon in his lat muscle and totaled just 40 1/3 frames this year (three at the MLB level) because of multiple health issues – including a strained pectoral.
The 4pm CT deadline has passed for free agents to accept or reject qualifying offers, and seven of the 10 players issued offers have officially turned them down. An eighth free agent, Will Smith, rejected the Giants’ qualifying offer and left the free agent market even before the deadline passed, signing a three-year, $40MM deal with the Braves. Jake Odorizzi of the Twins and Jose Abreu of the White Sox each accepted their team’s qualifying offers, and will now earn $17.8MM for the 2020 season.
Here are the seven players who rejected their former team’s one-year, $17.8MM qualifying offer….
- Madison Bumgarner (Giants)
- Gerrit Cole (Astros)
- Josh Donaldson (Braves)
- Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals)
- Anthony Rendon (Nationals)
- Stephen Strasburg (Nationals)
- Zack Wheeler (Mets)
There aren’t any surprises in that list, as there wasn’t doubt that Bumgarner, Cole, Donaldson, Rendon, Strasburg, and Wheeler would forego the one-year offer in search of a much richer, multi-year commitment. There was perhaps a bit more uncertainty surrounding Ozuna and Smith, given that Ozuna was coming off a pair of good but unspectacular years in St. Louis and Smith could perhaps have been wary of how the QO would impact his market, given what happened to another closer in Craig Kimbrel last winter.
If anything, the only real surprise occurred on the acceptance side, as Odorizzi was seen as a candidate to receive a multi-year offer before he opted to remain in Minnesota in 2020. Abreu, on the other hand, was widely expected to remain with the White Sox in some fashion, either via the QO or perhaps a multi-year extension. It should be noted that Odorizzi and Abreu are still free to negotiate longer-term deals with their respective teams even after accepting the qualifying offer.
Teams that sign a QO-rejecting free agent will have to give up at least one draft pick and some amount of international bonus pool money as compensation. (Click here for the list of what each individual team would have to forfeit to sign a QO free agent). The Astros, Nationals, Giants, Mets, Cardinals, and Braves are each in the same tier of compensation pool, so if any of their QO free agents signs elsewhere, the six teams will receive a compensatory draft pick between Competitive Balance Round B and the third round of the 2020 draft, or roughly in the range of the 75th to 85th overall pick. Atlanta, for instance, probably didn’t mind giving up their third-highest selection in the 2020 draft to sign Smith since the Braves have another pick coming back to their if Donaldson leaves for another club.
A total of 90 players have been issued qualifying offers since the QO system was introduced during the 2012-13 offseason, and Odorizzi and Abreu become the seventh and eighth players to accept the one-year pact. Odorizzi and Abreu are now ineligible to receive a qualifying offer in any future trips into free agency, so both players won’t be tied to draft/international pool penalties if they hit the open market following the 2020 season.
Nov. 13: Wainwright will receive $1.5MM upon making his 20th and 25th starts, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). He’ll unlock an additional $2MM for making his 28th start.
Interestingly, the contract also contains incentives based on relief appearances. Wainwright would earn $500K upon making his 35th relief outing and another $500K for every fifth appearance moving forward — up through 60 total appearances. He’ll also receive $500K for finishing 25 and 30 games, plus an additional $600K for 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 games finished.
Nov. 12: 3:05pm: Wainwright’s new contract guarantees him $5MM and includes an additional $5MM in possible incentives, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets.
10:08am: The Cardinals have agreed to re-sign righty Adam Wainwright, per a club announcement. It’s a one-year deal of unknown value for the Aegis Sports Management client.
This is the second consecutive year the veteran hurler has re-upped with the Cards after a brief free agency. But the conversation was rather different this time than it was when Wainwright took an incentive-laden pact nearly one year ago to the day.
Wainwright ended up maxing out his bonuses, turning a $2MM guarantee into $10MM of earnings. The venerable rotation stalwart earned every penny, spinning 171 2/3 frames of 4.19 ERA ball with 8.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
This was surely the most predictable of this year’s free agent outcomes, with the team stating frankly just days ago that talks were already well underway. Wainwright obviously isn’t capable of dominating as he once did, but the Cardinals would gladly take a repeat of his 2019 effort. And it goes without saying that both sides enjoy a relationship that will enter its 15th MLB campaign.
Originally drafted by the Braves way back in 2000, the now-38-year-old Wainwright landed in St. Louis via trade in the 2003-04 offseason. He hasn’t left the organization since. There were a few lost years — all of 2011, most of 2015 and 2018 — but on balance it has been quite a success.
Wainwright passed two thousand career innings during the 2019 campaign. He has a lifetime 3.39 ERA along with three All-Star appearances and a trio of top-three Cy Young finishes. Wainwright has also topped the century mark in postseason frames and excelled all the more on the biggest stage. He owns a lifetime 2.81 ERA in the playoffs, with 9.8 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9, including three exceptional appearances just weeks ago.
While this move comes as expected, it does make for a key part of the Cardinals offseason. With Wainwright now slotted in along with Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Dakota Hudson, the Cards can probably rest easy in the rotation. Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes are high-ceiling possibilities for the fifth starter’s job, with Austin Gomber and Genesis Cabrera among the other possibilities. With limited available space under the team’s preferred payroll levels, it may be that the remaining funds will be allocated to other areas of need.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina is still going strong as he nears the end of his most recent contract extension. His representative informed the organization yesterday that Molina intends to play beyond the 2020 campaign, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
It’s not yet known just how long Molina intends to keep plying his trade; no doubt he’ll wait and see at some point. But it appears he’s convinced enough of continuing past 2020 that the sides will dedicate time next spring to working out a new contract. That’s now on the docket, per Goold.
Molina is earning $20MM annually under his present contract, which covered the 2018-20 seasons. It came as a bit of a surprise when Molina secured such a hefty rate of pay the last time around, though the prior pact came on the heels of a highly productive 2016 campaign. And it was plenty understandable that the St. Louis organization had little interest in allowing the potential future Hall of Famer to speak with other teams.
Molina has certainly not fallen apart at the seams since inking his current deal, but there is evidence that time is catching up. His offensive productivity is waning, as he has been a slightly below-average hitter (.268/.313/.426) over the past three seasons. While he’s still lauded for his exceptional overall work behind the plate and in game preparation, Molina’s framing has been average or below in recent campaigns as well.
None of that is to dispute Molina’s well-earned status as a high-quality backstop and incalculably valuable presence, even into his late thirties. But it is questionable whether the club will want to continue paying such a premium rate into the future, which could set the stage for interesting talks this spring.
It’s been six years since the Reds have made the playoffs or even finished .500 in a season. President Dick Williams has made it no secret the team’s aiming to turn it around ASAP, though, which could set up for an active Reds winter. Improving a weak offense figures to be Cincinnati’s main focus over the coming months. The Reds’ outfield is one of multiple areas of concern, so it’s no surprise they seem to be looking to bolster that area of their roster. They’re among the teams interested in free agent Marcell Ozuna – arguably the top outfielder available – Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.
For Ozuna to actually reach free agency, he’ll first have to reject the Cardinals’ $17.8MM qualifying offer by Thursday. That looks like a near certainty, however, and if it does happen and the Reds do sign Ozuna, they’d have to surrender their third-highest draft pick along with however much it could cost to win the bidding for him. MLBTR forecasts a three-year, $45MM contract for Ozuna, who has an extensive track record of quality production and, along with Nicholas Castellanos, looks like the best free-agent outfielder in this winter’s class. The 29-year-old Ozuna slashed .243/.330/.474 with 29 home runs, 12 steals and 2.6 fWAR across 549 plate appearances in 2019, during which he graded as a Statcast darling.
Whether the Reds get Ozuna or someone else, it’ll be an eye-opener if they don’t land at least one somewhat prominent outfielder this offseason. They’re stuck with a largely unproven group at the moment, as no one from the Nick Senzel–Aristides Aquino–Jesse Winker trio has established himself as a truly capable big league starter yet. Speculatively, if the Reds were to sign Ozuna, he could take over left field, leaving RF to a platoon consisting of the lefty-swinging Winker and the righty-hitting Aquino.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli and Cardinals manager Mike Shildt have won Manager of the Year honors in their respective leagues, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Tuesday evening. (As a reminder, award voting is conducted at the conclusion of the regular season but prior to postseason play.)
The 38-year-old Baldelli narrowly edged out Yankees skipper Aaron Boone. Baldelli and Boone both received 13 first-place votes, but Baldelli’s 13 second-place votes carried more clout than the nine second-place nods for Boone. Rays skipper Kevin Cash finished third on the ballot and landed three first-place votes. Oakland’s Bob Melvin, Houston’s A.J. Hinch and Cleveland’s Terry Francona came in fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively. Hinch received the lone first-place vote that did not go to Baldelli, Boone or Cash (link to full breakdown of voting).
Baldelli secures Manager of the Year honors in his first season at the helm of a big league club. Hired to step into shoes that were most recently filled by longtime skipper Ron Gardenhire (2002-14) and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor (2015-18), Baldelli represented a significant departure from the organizational norm in Minnesota. His appointment as skipper marked a continuation of a trend toward modern, data-driven decision making in what had long been viewed as one of the game’s most traditional (and at times, insular) organizations.
Baldelli’s Twins shocked baseball by bashing a Major League-record 307 home runs and usurping the American League Central division throne. The “Bomba Squad” reignited the Twin Cities fanbase and brought numerous sellouts to Target Field late in the 2019 season as the Twins charged toward their first division championship since the stadium’s inaugural season back in 2010. Unfortunately, the postseason brought more of the same for the Twins, who were swept away in the ALDS by their postseason nemesis, the Yankees. Still, the 2019 campaign marked a clear return to relevance for the Twins, who are now widely expected to be active players on the offseason trade and free agent markets with an eye toward a deeper playoff push in 2020.
Shildt, 51, won an even tighter race to secure NL Manager of the Year honors. Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell actually took home more first-place votes (13 to 10), but Shildt’s 14 second-place votes (compared to Counsel’s six) gave him a total of 95 points to Counsell’s 88. Atlanta’s Brian Snitker finished third and received three first-place votes, while the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts was fourth place and received four first-place votes of his own. Washington’s Dave Martinez and Arizona’s Torey Lovullo finished fifth and sixth, respectively (full voting breakdown here).
Like Baldelli, Shildt was in his first full season as a big league manager, although he wasn’t a rookie, having taken over the reins of the Cardinals in July 2018 when Mike Matheny was dismissed. Shildt’s Cardinals looked like an NL Central afterthought early in the month of August, sitting at just 58-55 on Aug. 8. However, the Cardinals went on a tear to close out the season, playing at a 33-16 pace down the stretch to overtake both the Brewers and the Cubs en route to an NL Central Championship.
Eight teams issued qualifying offers this year to ten players, with the Nationals and Giants handing out two apiece. Teams issuing the $17.8MM offer must be comfortable with the receiving player accepting, as it isn’t possible to trade such a player (absent consent) until the middle of the season. But in most cases, the offer is given with the expectation it will be declined, thus allowing the issuing team to receive a compensatory draft selection if the player signs with a new club.
As with draft forfeitures, draft compensation is largely tied to the financial status of the team losing the player. And in 2019, seven of the eight teams that issued qualifying offers fall into the same bucket: teams that neither exceeded the luxury threshold nor received revenue-sharing benefits. This applies to the Astros, Nationals, Giants, Mets, Cardinals, White Sox and Braves. In such cases, the default compensation for losing a qualified free agent is applied.
In other words, if any of Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Zack Wheeler, Marcell Ozuna, Jose Abreu or Josh Donaldson signs with a new club, their former team will receive a compensatory pick between Competitive Balance Round B and Round 3 of the 2020 draft. Those selections would likely fall in the upper 70s and low 80s. Slot values in that range of the 2019 draft checked in between $730K and $700K. The Nationals and Giants, then, could add a pair of Top 100 picks and roughly $1.5MM worth of additional pool money each if they lose both of their qualified free agents.
The lone team that stands to gain a potential pick at the end of the first round would be the Twins, who issued a qualifying offer to Jake Odorizzi. Minnesota is a revenue-sharing recipient that did not exceed the luxury threshold, thus entitling the Twins to the highest level of free-agent compensation possible … if Odorizzi signs for a guaranteed $50MM or more. If Odorizzi’s total guarantees are $49.9MM or lower, the Twins would receive the same level of pick as the other seven teams who issued qualifying offers: between Competitive Balance Round B and Round 3.
Of course, if any of the players who received qualifying offers either accept the offer or re-sign with their 2019 clubs on a new multi-year deal, no draft compensation will be awarded to that team at all.
MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here to read the other entries in this series.
The Cardinals had a middling 58-55 record as late as Aug. 8, yet a blistering stretch run saw St. Louis win the NL Central and end a three-year (lengthy by Cardinals standards) postseason drought. The Cards also defeated the Braves in the NLDS before falling to the Nationals in the NLCS, and the one-sided nature of that NLCS sweep continued the somewhat inconsistent nature of the Cardinals’ season. The focus will clearly be on upgrading the offense as the Cards look to take a step forward and get back to the World Series in 2020.
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B: $130MM through 2024
- Miles Mikolas, SP: $68MM through 2023
- Matt Carpenter, 1B/3B: $39MM through 2021 (includes $2MM buyout of $18.5MM club/vesting option for 2022)
- Dexter Fowler, OF: $33MM through 2021
- Carlos Martinez, SP/RP: $23.5MM through 2021 (includes $500K buyout of $17MM club option for 2022; Cards also have $18MM club option for 2023 with $500K buyout)
- Paul DeJong, SS: $22.5MM through 2023 (includes $2MM buyout of $12.5MM club option for 2024; Cards also have $15MM club option for 2025 with $1MM buyout)
- Yadier Molina, C: $20MM through 2020
- Andrew Miller, RP: $14MM through 2020 (includes $2.5MM buyout of $12MM club/vesting option for 2021)
- Kolten Wong, 2B: $11.25MM through 2020 (includes $1MM buyout of $12.5MM club option for 2021)
- Brett Cecil, RP: $7MM through 2020
- Jose Martinez, 1B/OF: $2MM through 2020
Arbitration-Eligible Players (projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
Four straight seasons without a playoff berth would’ve led to rumblings about changes within the St. Louis braintrust, though in the wake of the Cardinals’ solid finish, the organization gave contract extensions to president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, GM Mike Girsch, and manager Mike Schildt.
The front office now faces the challenge of upgrading a lineup that already has a lot of personnel in place. One look at the “guaranteed contracts” section above indicates how much money the Cards have already invested in position players, but none of that group showed much at the plate in 2019. Paul Goldschmidt led the pack with a modest 116 wRC+, which was the lowest of his nine-year career and perhaps a red flag given how the first baseman was just signed to a pricey five-year extension last spring.
Kolten Wong (108 wRC+), Dexter Fowler (103), Jose Martinez (101), Paul DeJong (100), Matt Carpenter (95), and Yadier Molina (87) all fell into the average-to-disappointing range in terms of offensive production. This isn’t to say that there wasn’t significant value here — Wong and DeJong are arguably the best defensive middle infield combo in baseball, and Fowler’s season actually represented a solid bounce-back after a disastrous 2018 campaign. But with this core group all likely to return in 2020, the Cardinals have only a few empty positions to add some extra pop to the lineup.
The infield is set with Goldschmidt at first base, Wong at second base, DeJong at short, and Carpenter penciled in at third base and looking to rebound from a career-worst year. Carpenter is another player who signed an extension last spring, and while his track record is strong enough that St. Louis likely might have brought him back anyway under the terms of his original contract (an $18.5MM club option for 2020, which became guaranteed under his new extension), there also isn’t any guarantee that he’ll avoid further decline as he enters his age-34 season.
Carpenter’s struggles made Tommy Edman’s emergence all the more critical to the Cardinals’ success in 2019. Edman hit .304/.350/.500 in 349 plate appearances as s rookie, getting increased playing time at third base down the stretch in addition to some time spent at second base and in right field. Edman spent the bulk of his minor league career as a shortstop, making him a valuable multi-positional bench piece for the Cards heading into next season. Ideally, the Cardinals hope to use Edman all over the diamond rather than require him to continually step in at third base, since a resurgent Carpenter would go a long way toward rebuilding the offense.
Fowler can play center field in a pinch but is best suited to right field at this stage of his career, thus leaving Harrison Bader as the Cards’ best in-house option up the middle. Bader’s center field glovework is so outstanding that St. Louis could probably live with him as just a defense-first regular, if the rest of the lineup could better pick up the offensive slack. The Cardinals would be overjoyed if Bader replicated his 2018 numbers (107 wRC+ in 427 PA), but if not, the club could go with some kind of a timeshare with Fowler in center. Fowler did play 377 innings there in 2019.
That still wouldn’t be a big solve in a St. Louis outfield that is full of question marks, though it isn’t to say that the Cardinals are short on personnel. Beyond Fowler, Bader, the defensively-limited Martinez, and utilitymen Edman and Yairo Munoz, there’s also top prospect Tyler O’Neill ready for a longer look, Lane Thomas and Randy Arozarena as two more youngsters who looked good in limited action during their rookie seasons, and another star prospect in Dylan Carlson down at Triple-A.
It’s a group that is long on potential, but there isn’t guarantee that that potential will manifest itself in everyday solutions for the 2020 roster. Free agents like Corey Dickerson, Kole Calhoun or other veterans who could be signed to relatively inexpensive shorter-term deals would add some proven ability to the mix.
In terms of longer-term commitments, the Cards have had some recent discussions with Marcell Ozuna’s camp about a possible reunion. The common thinking had long been that the Cardinals would let Ozuna walk in free agency after two decent but unspectacular years in St. Louis, with the Cards collecting a compensatory draft pick via the qualifying offer that Ozuna is likely to reject.
That extra pick could also make the Cardinals more likely to surrender a pick of their own to sign one of the other nine QO free agents. Of that group, Josh Donaldson has long been a Cardinals target, though signing him would create the problem of what to do with Carpenter. Will Smith would help firm up a bullpen that has some ninth inning questions — if Mozeliak and Girsch aren’t hesitant about committing another big contract to a reliever after the underwhelming results from Brett Cecil and Andrew Miller in St. Louis.
Gerrit Cole will likely fall beyond the Cards’ price range, but Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi or even Stephen Strasburg could be targeted in an effort to further solidify an already strong rotation. Jack Flaherty emerged as the Cardinals’ ace down the stretch, while Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson, and Adam Wainwright all provided quality innings.
Wainwright seems likely to be re-signed, but given his age and the shaky peripherals that underlined Hudson’s seemingly sharp 3.35 ERA, one more veteran arm would definitely add some reinforcement to the starting five. Beyond the qualifying offer types, names like Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, or Kyle Gibson would make sense. The grounder-heavy attack of the latter two pitchers would make them particularly good fits for a strong defensive team like the Cardinals.
In terms of in-house rotation depth, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Austin Gomber, or Genesis Cabrera could be deployed as starters or relievers. Former top prospect Alex Reyes is also technically in the mix, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what Reyes could add to the bullpen or rotation after yet another injury-plagued year. At this point, he’s thrown all of 67 1/3 innings between the majors and minors over the past three seasons combined.
Perhaps the more realistic X-factor is Carlos Martinez, who will be given another look as a starting pitcher in Spring Training. Shoulder problems forced Martinez into the bullpen in the last two seasons, though the righty made the most of the situation by delivering some strong numbers in 2019 (3.17 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 2.94 K/BB over 48 1/3 IP) and even taking over closing duties in the wake of Jordan Hicks’ Tommy John surgery on June 26. Hicks could return late next season.
Depending on what additions are make to the starting five, Martinez might well end up as the closer again, though St. Louis could still look to add another reliever with closing experience to the pen. Smith would be the biggest possible get, but even a lower-tier option like Sergio Romo would be much less costly and perhaps all the cushion the Cardinals need given Martinez’s success in the closer role. Among internal options, Miller has saved some games in the past, and breakout reliever Giovanny Gallegos could also be considered for save situations.
Backup catcher is the most obvious bench need, and re-signing Matt Wieters might be the easiest potential option. The Cards would likely prefer Wieters or another experienced backstop ahead of Andrew Knizner, who made his MLB debut last season and has been tabbed as the Cardinals’ catcher of the future….assuming the ageless Molina ever retires, that is. Molina is looking for a rebound season after his play, particularly his offense, was hampered by thumb problems in 2019.
One wrinkle to the team’s underachieving play for much of the season is that St. Louis might already have a good idea about what some of its assets might net on the trade market. Such players as Carlos Martinez, Jose Martinez, O’Neill, Thomas, and more were mentioned in trade rumors last summer and even last offseason. Given the crowded roster, one can certainly make the case that the Cardinals are well-suited to be a popular figure in trade negotiations this winter.
Aside from Goldschmidt, Flaherty, Molina, and probably Mikolas and Gallegos, it could be argued that every player on the Cardinals’ big league roster could be a trade candidate, depending on how big a splash the club feels it needs. Packaging a young outfielder with Fowler to clear the outfield logjam and get Fowler’s contract off the books? Likewise, maybe packaging a young player with Carpenter, if another team wants to take the risk on a Carpenter bounce-back? Selling relatively high on Wong or DeJong? There are no shortage of scenarios that could be floated, as the Cardinals have an on-paper surplus at multiple positions and have shown the willingness to spend in free agency to address any other roster holes. Currently, the Cards project to an Opening Day payroll of about $162MM, which would match their Opening Day mark from 2019. Trades could lower that total outlay, of course, and it’s possible that ownership is willing to push a bit further on the heels of an NLCS return.
The Cards have more questions than most teams coming off a League Championship Series appearance, but there’s enough talent on hand and enough potential for future moves that they could be one of the offseason’s more fascinating teams to watch.
Free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna is “very unlikely” to accept the $17.8MM qualifying offer made to him by the Cardinals, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Ozuna was seen as one of the few recipients who could consider accepting the one-year deal, but Heyman suggests that there is a robust market for Ozuna’s services.
While it was perhaps never likely that Ozuna would take the qualifying offer to stick around in St. Louis for another year, he stood out as one of the ten QO recipients who could be a candidate to accept in lieu of entering the open market. Ozuna’s retractors might pin the outfielder as one of the hitters who could suffer most in baseball’s notoriously stingy free agency; as a solid but unspectacular hitter who won’t carry a lineup and who doesn’t stand out on defense, critics might put him in Mike Moustakas territory.
That’s not to say he doesn’t offer any value. Ozuna is just two years removed from a breakout season in Miami’s pitcher-friendly ballpark. While he’s no longer the Gold Glover he was in 2017, Ozuna still grades out solidly as a defensive outfielder. By free agent standards, he’s on the younger side, and there’s reason to believe that he’s capable of more than the .241/.328/.472 line he posted in his second year in St. Louis; his .382 expected wOBA far outclassed his actual .336 mark, suggesting that Ozuna’s true talent level is a notch above his Cardinals output.
Assuming that Ozuna indeed elects to hit free agency, it’s not a foregone conclusions that the 28-year-old will play in a new uniform next year. Ozuna has expressed his desire to remain with the Cardinals, and while the organization has been less steadfast in their interest, it has been recently reported that the two sides are prepared to discuss a multiyear contract. By virtue of extending the QO, the club has demonstrated a willingness to keep Ozuna at a considerable cost, but only for one year—we’ll see how far they’re willing to go on a multiyear commitment.
Otherwise, Ozuna will reach free agency for the first time with a compensatory draft pick attached to him. We’ve seen in recent years that this additional price has been a deterrent for mid-range free agents, and Ozuna’s market will no doubt take a hit as a result, though to what extent it’s not clear. Regardless of the draft pick, Ozuna has plenty of desirable qualities that should make him an attractive target to a flurry of clubs, like Heyman notes; MLBTR projects Ozuna to receive a three year, $45MM contract—while that’s a lower projection that other outlets, such a deal would still give Ozuna the second-highest payday among free agent corner outfielders (behind only Nick Castellanos).
- The 2019 season was surprisingly pedestrian for Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter, a normally excellent producer who fell flat after the team signed him to a two-year, $39MM extension in April. Carpenter stepped to the plate 492 times and hit a mediocre .226/.334/.392 with 15 home runs, giving him the lowest wRC+ (95) and fWAR (1.2) he has posted over a full season since debuting in 2011. But Carpenter, who will turn 34 later this month, seemingly hasn’t lost the confidence of Cardinals brass. ”‘Carp’ obviously will have a better season, we expect. He’s highly motivated,” chairman Bill DeWitt said this week (via Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). President of baseball operations John Mozeliak echoed that sentiment, saying the Cardinals’ confidence in Carpenter is “high” and calling this year “an outlier.” Of course, the Cardinals don’t have much choice but to publicly show faith in Carpenter, whom they’re likely stuck with because of the money left on his contract and his no-trade clause.