History suggests the St. Louis Cardinals rarely go all-in during the offseason. After dealing starter Shelby Miller to the Atlanta Braves for Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden, rumor has it the Cardinals may be scripting another chapter in their offseason history book. By playing fact or fiction with the latest buzz surrounding the Cardinals, I will offer you a better understanding of what is possible and what remains pure fantasy based on the team’s biggest need—starting pitching.
It’s likely the Cardinals aren’t done wheeling and dealing. Facts are buried under the layers of smoke screens combined with how the free-agent market takes shape. Predicting general manager John Mozeliak’s next move would be like calling the weekly weather in the Midwest.
The tragic death of rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras rewrote the Cardinals’ offseason agenda. Suddenly, the Cardinals went from needing minor tweaks to being desperate for a big move.
Has Mozeliak locked himself in his office while pondering another big move? Will the GM throw a lucrative deal at a starting pitcher to aid the best rotation in the National League Central Division?
The clock is ticking as Mozeliak digs in.
Are the Cardinals plotting to offer Max Scherzer a contract?
Given the recent history of the Cardinals and acquiring free agents, it would be unwise to fathom Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. presenting Max Scherzer with a gaudy contract.
However, I believe this is purely a fantasy.
The Cardinals need another starter after trading Miller.
The 2015 projected rotation consists of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez. Martinez will enter spring training as a starter, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Wainwright and Lynn are staples. Lackey is on the back end of his career, and Wacha's health remains a mystery after dealing with a rare stress fracture in his right shoulder. Even if Martinez enters the regular season as a starter, he is inexperienced and will need time to adjust to pitching every fifth day. There’s also Jaime Garcia, who is an injury-plagued lefty that can never remain healthy for an entire season.
Back in March, Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski made a significant offer to Scherzer in an effort to keep him in Motown. The offer was worth north of $25 million per season and failed to match the contract Justin Verlander signed prior to the start of the 2013 season.
To no surprise, Scherzer rejected the offer and opted for free agency, where he can cash in. And he deserves that ability after winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2013 and reaching 18 wins last season.
The Cardinals haven’t publicly expressed interest in any free agent, which would be foolish to do. But Scherzer remains an attraction for multiple reasons.
The Cardinals have the payroll flexibility to sign Scherzer if they choose to do so. Scherzer is from the area and stated the Cardinals were his dream team.
“It would be too cool,” Scherzer told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in March. “I grew up there. When you’re a little kid, you picture yourself putting on the [Cardinals] uniform.”
Indeed, that says a lot about Scherzer. But it’s just an idea for the time being.
The Cardinals could certainly use the services from the kid they originally drafted, and a substantial offer isn’t out of the picture. Still, the odds of the Scherzer coming home remain slim.
Are the Cardinals in the running for Jon Lester?
According to ESPN, there is a fourth team bidding for Jon Lester. Though the ghost team has yet to be identified, the Cardinals are believed to be it.
And why not? The Cardinals have resources to invest in Lester. Mozeliak doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for his prospects to mature like he used to.
Lester has taken his time deciding which organization he will pitch for in 2015. When you’re one of the top pitchers on the market, why wouldn’t you be patient and let GMs bid against each other while jacking up the price tag?
It's a good move by Lester and his camp.
At first, it didn’t seem likely the Cardinals would seek Lester.
It's funny how quickly things change.
At the July 31 trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox were 12 games under .500. The season was lost, and the focus shifted to the future. Boston shipped Lester to the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline last season. In northern California, Lester helped the A’s reach the playoffs by winning six of his 11 starts.
For Lester, reaching the playoffs last season marked the fifth time he’s done so in his career.
In my opinion, Lester is the best option in terms of starters on the market. He’s a winner—and an experienced one. Lester has two World Series rings (2007, 2013). He’s a perfect 3-0 in his three World Series starts over his career.
The Cardinals would be wise to present Lester with a hefty contract, especially with the uncertainties regarding the health of Wainwright and Wacha.
With a chance to reverse their current offseason trend, the Cardinals have an opportunity to make a big splash by signing one of the most attractive starters on the market. They won't get both, but I believe they will land one.
And that man is named Lester.
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