This off-season, there are several players still available in in free agency who could help the Cardinals: Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Plus there’s that never ending rumor that the Cardinals have been trying to get Josh Donaldson.
What do these three players have in common? They all play corner infield spots, possible homes for Matt Carpenter.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Carp and that I would hate to see him traded or reduced to a bench role.
I’ll set aside the fan in me though and try to look at it from a GM’s perspective by comparing the three and Carpenter.
This all assumes two things:
1) We keep Jedd Gyorko. By the way, I can easily see Gyorko sliding over to 1B to part of the rotation there if we get either of the two 3B options mentioned here. He has played all over the infield. Not many reps at 1B, but I think he’d do ok there.
2) Carpenter gets moved after we get any of the three. (I could see him being part of the Donaldson deal)
First up, we have Eric Hosmer. He’s a 4 time Gold Glove winner at 1B coming off of a career year where he hit .318 with a .385 OBP and homered and 25 times. Plus he’s entering his age 28 season, which is the prime of a players career.
As for negatives, well, his power isn’t what we’ve come from 1B these days, though his D offsets that a little.
Another issue is consistency. He has a bit of an even year/odd year thing going on. In 2012, 2014 and 2016, he didn’t hit above .270 and didn’t have an OBP above .328. S 2013, 2015, and 2017, his BA was .297 or higher each year, and his OBP was higher than .350 each year.
Given how much he’s going to make (thank you Scott Boras), I’d want someone I know is going to be consistent year in and year out. Plus, next year is an even year.
Next, we have Mike Moustakas.
Moustakas hit 38 homers and like Hosmer, is in his prime. Those 38 homers were a career high though. After those 38, his next highest is 22. Plus, even with all of those homers, he was only worth 1.8 WAR (Carpenter was worth 2.9) Part of that is, even though he hit a decent .270, he only had an OBP of .314. Plus, unlike Hosmer, he’s not a GG at his position. He’s a better fielder than Carpenter, but all of these guys are.
Even with those homers, last year wasn’t his best year. 2015 was by a longshot. In fact, he’s only had two years where he’s had a WAR above 2: 2012, 2015. Again, I’d like more consistency please.
Finally, there’s Donaldson.
Donaldson is a former MVP and he hit .270 with 33 homers and 78 RBI’s. The problem here is he’s entering his age 32 season. Historically the decline phase of a player’s career starts around their age 32 or 33 seasons, so while he was productive last year, how long will he remain so? Plus, the cost to acquire him in a trade won’t be cheap. Toronto has been reluctant to move him (we’ve been banging on their door for a while now) so we’d likely have to make them an offer they can’t refuse, a deal that’s lopsided in their favor. No thanks.
In the end, I think we should keep Carpenter and our assets rather than try our luck on any of the three listed above.
Now Manny Machado next off-season? That’s another story…
As always, thanks for reading.