A funny thing happened on the way to Washington for the Winter Meetings. Most avid fans such as myself really thought that St. Louis was in the catbird seat to acquire an outfielder via the trade market. Things may have played out differently had Boston not overwhelmed the field and snatched a certain ace lefty (deja vu anyone?) away from the Nationals. Now as everyone knows, a deal isn’t official until Twitter announces it for at least the third time so counting chickens and all that only leads to more frustration and questions.
(On a side note it’s okay – you can admit that you were starting to question Mo given the last 12 months have been a struggle.)
By the middle of the Winter Meetings, it honestly felt like the Cardinals were the only team NOT to make a deal. Even the Baby Bears picked up a replacement closer when the rumor mill kicked into high gear. First it was the Adam Eaton dance followed very soon after by a possible Kansas City Shuffle (watched Lucky Number Slevin last night and highly recommend). Both of those options had positives but the real smoke before the fire happened when Colorado did the unexpected. Instead of looking at the Rockies as potential trade partners, the NL West afterthoughts gave Ian Desmond a truck full of money.
The fact that the Cardinals had been linked to Desmond and also the interest in Charlie Blackmon did two things to the Winter Meetings. One, it revealed the estimated cost of doing business and two, actual news was going to be moving slowly for St. Louis thanks to one very large commitment by the front office. Teams inquiring on potential deals were not asking for the present but the future and that was thankfully a non-starter. Then the real bombshell dropped and basically no one outside of a chosen few knew which way to go.
Washington quickly overcame finishing second in the Sale Sweepstakes and went right back to the same well in dealing what appeared to be a blow to a certain National League rival under the Arch. Eaton is a very nice player on a great contract – those two things became even more important with the new CBA and going forward with the penalties for going over the luxury tax. With that being said, the prospect price made everyone scratch their heads as the White Sox pulled off the deal of the year for sure and possibly one that sets the bar for position players going into the next decade.
To properly put it into perspective, the Cardinals would have MAYBE had a shot at Eaton had they been willing to offer Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, and Carson Kelly since the catcher was said to be high on Chicago’s wish list. Let that sink in for a bit just to see how devastating that would be in say…2018. Not to mention both Weaver and Kelly were just named the St. Louis Minor League Players of the Year, but that deal could not have worked out well any way you look at it. Hey, good on the Nats for doing what they can to persuade potential $400 mill man Harper that the grass isn’t always greener.
The Cardinals can hardly afford to trade arguably the three most important prospects that will factor in for the next 4-5 years. The Fowler signing didn’t really block anybody given there was a need and the loss of one draft pick is minimal at best compared to the acquisition cost of any of the options on the board. Bravo once again to the management team as well as the owners for realizing the best plan of attack was the one of least resistance. Now Memphis will be the place for reinforcements instead of question marks, and that makes the Preacher look forward to April all the more.