Quick take reaction to the close to finalized signing by the Cardinals of free agent Jhonny Peralta.
First, let me commend John Mozeliak for showing urgency in resolving the needs of this team. He tested the trade market and found a match for David Freese and improved his horribly 2013 ranked outfield defense with Peter Bourjos. However, when it came to finding a shortstop, the requests of teams seemed to be too much for Mo to bear. So he went to the free agent market and found a decent acquisition in Jhonny Peralta. For money that will be 4 years for around 52 million, Peralta will take over at short until the 2018 season. This is a quality acquisition.
Did Mo overpay for the guy? In my opinion, he did not overpay and basically met the market demands while improving his team drastically. Take away the .230 hitting combo of Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma and enter the .300 hitting Peralta who is capable of cranking 20 home runs.
Sometimes the price can’t be measured by the player you get but by the market he exists in. On the market, you had overrated Scott Boras represented Stephen Drew and you had Peralta. Mo wisely picked the latter who could provide his team with pop and a glove that provided a .988 fielding percentage as recently as 2012. I do not love this deal but it has grown on me over the last 18 hours. Let’s break it down.
Peralta isn’t young. He is a 10 year MLB veteran with time split between Cleveland and Detroit who is 31 years old and will finish the proposed Cardinals deal at 35. That presents concerns going forward but it’s what he has done with the bat that provides the biggest upside here. Four times in his career, he has hit 20 or more home runs. As recently as 2011, Peralta hit 21 home runs, drove in 86 runs, and hit .299. He doesn’t score a lot of runs and strikes out a lot. He has played 140 or more games in 8 of his 10 seasons. At his best, his on base percentage is around .350. At his best, he is around 4 wins above his replacement. I see this guy and I see somewhat of enigma. He didn’t have a good 2012 season when it came to batting average but he produced 13 HR and 63 RBI. In 2013, he hit .303 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in only 107 games. He gives you pop, a decent average and someone who can make plays in the field. This isn’t an overwhelming player by any means but one who can thrive in the right surroundings.
Peralta helped his offseason cause by hitting .333 in the 2013 postseason with 10 hits while playing shortstop and left field.
For people who hate the money in the deal, would you rather us give up Shelby Miller, Matt Adams or Carlos Martinez in order to acquire J.J. Hardy? Do you want to take on Andrus’ 120 million and give up 3-4 players in return? This signing signifies how badly Mozeliak wanted to hang onto his young talent and not bend over backwards for other teams demands. Mozeliak surveyed the market and made his choice. You can tell he wasn’t going to give away a player like Adams, whom Mo coveted, to anyone and in the end the asking price for a shortstop under team control was too steep.
Peralta solves a problem at shortstop for the Cardinals. He isn’t anyone’s first choice for the job but he will be a fine improvement and fill a need. He gives you an offensive upgrade at a position left out in the cold by the Cards for too long. No more Pete Kozma or Daniel Descalso. Expect Peralta to get 155 starts if his body can hold up. He is the shortstop for the next four years.
Inside 3 days, Mozeliak solved two needs. Outfield defense and shortstop offense. Those problems have been solved. And guess what? The Cards didn’t part with one single piece of their heavily equipped young arsenal of talent. That is the best part about the Peralta deal.
I expect our GM to sit back now and survey the trading/free agent landscape for a couple smaller deals or possible trades but he doesn’t HAVE to do anything. His needs have been filled. This team didn’t have many holes to begin with. The Cards are ready to contend again. This year The Birds will have Oscar Taveras. The Cards could have Stephen Piscotty in the outfield as well. They will have Bourjos and Wong in the same lineup giving pitchers problems. Matt Adams and Allen Craig patrolling first base. Matt Carpenter back at third base. Holliday in left. And a most valuable asset behind the plate in Yadi Molina. A pitching staff including at least 7 starting candidates with a loaded bullpen. Things are good in Cardinal Nation and it’s not even Thanksgiving.
Well done, Mo. Peralta is a producer and somewhat with an element of surprise. He comes here with the Cards not having to hand over a draft pick to the Indians and no players on their current roster. Before you cry out about other players or the money, remember what Mozelaik didn’t give up.
That’s all for now. Have a great Sunday!
Thanks for reading this,
Dan L. Buffa
@buffa82 on Twitter