The offseason, lasting from November to March, got off to a very slow start for all teams, with Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton, who the Cardinals were in on, blocking markets for all other players. Stanton, who the Cardinals had heavy interest in getting, eventually went to the Yankees, after he said that he wouldn’t like to play in St. Louis. The deal would of been centered around Sandy Alcantara. Ohtani, who was never really a factor for the Cards, signed with the Angels. However, in that time frame, John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch went around all the big rumors and made three smaller deals, but nonetheless important. The first deal was trading Aledmys Diaz to Toronto for minor league outfielder JB Woodman. Diaz, an all star in 2016, and one of our best players that year, had a major down year in his second season. While the power potential was still there, hitting 7 home runs in 79 games, though that’s no where near what he did in 2016, his average took a major downturn, going down 41 points from 2016. On top of that, Diaz’s less than stellar defense had no improvement. He was optioned down on June 28th, and didn’t return until September, with roster expansion. In his time in the minors, he experimented at different positions, third and second, but no result was made. On top of that, his bat declined more. Diaz started the final game of the season at 3rd, but left the game early with a base running injury. As for our return, JB Woodman, who just turned 23, we get yet another outfielder to add to the extreme logjam we already have. Woodman, a pretty balanced player, doesn’t really specialize in one place. Woodman has a little power, hitting 7 home runs in Lansing last season, is about a .275 hitter, and fields averagely. Woodman isn’t in our top 30 for prospects, and doesn’t seem like he will amount to much.
As for the second move Girsch and Mo pulled out of their back pocket, the Cardinals signed Miles Mikolas out of Japan. Mikolas, best known as the Lizard King, was exceptionally good in Japan, pitching to a sub 2.50 ERA and winning over 30 games in 3 seasons. The Cardinals came out of nowhere to sign Mikolas to a two year deal. Mikolas had pitched in the majors before, with Texas and San Diego from 2012-2014. He had an above 5 ERA, and worked both out of the bullpen and as a starter. Mikolas figures to improve at least a little off of this, and will work exclusively as a starter for the Cardinals. Joining Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Carlos Martinez, and one of Adam Wainwright and Alex Reyes.
The next move that has been made so far, was a very sudden, and perhaps questionable move, signing Luke Gregerson. Gregerson was signed to a 2 year contract, but had a very down year last year for the world champion Astros, pitching to a above 4 ERA. Gregerson joins a bullpen of Matt Bowman, John Brebbia, Tyler Lyons, Sam Tuivailala, and Brett Cecil. Gregerson was apart of the Cardinals organization back in 2008, before being traded for San Diego for shortstop Khalil Greene. He had a nice few years with three different teams, San Diego, Oakland, and Houston. 2017 was by far his worst career year.
Lastly, our final moves we’ve made thus far, was the big one, acquiring Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins for 4 players. Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, Zac Gallen, and Daniel Castano will all be heading to Miami in return. Ozuna, a free agent in two years, so he will have lots of time in St. Louis, put up MVP numbers in 2017. He hit 37 home runs, and batted .312, all in a large ballpark, Marlins Park. Ozuna will slide into an already pretty good outfield, containing Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. Ozuna will most likely play left, Pham in center, and Fowler in right. This will more than likely mean that Randal Grichuk, Harrison Bader, and Jose Martinez will battle in spring training for a bench spot, unless one of the three, or more, are traded. The same day we acquired Ozuna, the Cardinals said goodbye to another outfielder, Stephen Piscotty. The team shipped Piscotty off to Oakland, where he can play closer to his mother, who was diagnosed with ALS. However, the return for Piscotty was a very good one, Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock. Munoz, a very good hitter, hit exactly .300, hit 13 home runs, and stole 22 bases across the AA and AAA. Munoz is a shortstop by trade, but can play third base, and even some outfield as well. Munoz being 22 means that we could see him in the majors as soon as this season. As for Schrock, the 23 year old is a second baseman and shortstop, and he hits for great contact, batting .321 in AA Midland last season. However, the power isn’t there as much, only hitting 7 home runs. Schrock also runs very well, stealing 15 bases last season, and can at least hold his own in the field. Schrock’s MLB ETA is said to be 2018, and with lack of infield depth, if an injury occurs, Schrock is a name you could see up.
With all the great moves we’ve made so far, it’s safe to say were not done. It’s only December, Spring Training doesn’t start until the end of February. That’s 2 and a half months, which is plenty of time for moves to be made. Mo has already stated that he’d like another bat and possibly another veteran reliever for the backend of the bullpen, as well as other rumors that swirled around earlier this offseason that we were in the market for a defensive infielder. All of these are readily available through trade and free agency however. As for the defensive infielder, Freddy Galvis could be a great fit, especially since the Phillies are shopping him. Young infielder Alen Hansen could also work, as the White Sox non-tendered him earlier this month. As for our desire for another bat, the Cardinals are pushing a few moves, one of which being Josh Donaldson. Donaldson, 2015 AL MVP, is a great defender, and an even better hitter. Though he took a step back in 2017, he’s still a annual All-Star candidate, and would be a huge add, even though it’s for just one season. The Cardinals also reportedly formally submitted an offer for Manny Machado, who, again would be only a one year fit. Machado plays a lot like Donaldson, but is considerably younger. Both Donaldson and Machado would cost the Cardinals lots of talent. Eric Hosmer, and JD Martinez are also on the open market. As for the reliever, the Cardinals are in serious talks with the Tampa Bay Rays for Alex Colome. Colome, an all star, lead the AL in saves in 2017. He’d surely cost more, but rumor has it that the Rays want contract relief from Evan Longoria, who would fit here, and taking his contract might lessen the return.
All in all, Mo and Michael Girsch have done an exceptional job so far this winter, and it will be interesting to see where to go from here on out, until Spring Training.