In the words of the late, great Sean Connery’s Malone from “The Untouchables,” what are the St. Louis Cardinals prepared to do about the offense?
I ripped and raged on Monday. Today, I offer up an idea: Contact George Springer and see where he stands on a contract. Word on the street says he’s still waiting for a solid offer.
The idea is becoming clear. Outside of a few teams, and the usual big spenders, the winter is bone dry for true hot stove heat. Players are going to have to step out of their ivory tower, and go with a one-year deal. (Talking to you, Yadier Molina.)
Springer aspired to collect $100+ million over five seasons a couple of months ago when free agency opened its doors, but now his situation could dictate a shorter term with more punch. I would wager that whatever financial hit the Cardinals took last year can be made up when vaccinations reach more bodies and 2021 starts to age a little bit. While a series of big additions shouldn’t be expected, why is it such an otherworldly thought for this team to add a premium talent?
The National League Central Division is there for the taking. Acquire Springer, and it’s yours. He’s premium Matt Holliday with a better glove.
I wouldn’t predict a gold glove in the outfield for the former Houston Astro, but Springer can hold his own in all three outfield spots. Via Fangraphs, he’s saved the Astros 25 runs in his career. The bat has produced an .852 OPS and 131 OPS+ in his seven year career. He can hit 25-30 home runs, draw a walk, hit around .270, slug near .500, get on base consistently, smack 28 doubles, and do the rest. He’s a fierce right-handed bat in a lineup that needs offensive production from either side of the plate. Place him in the lineup hitting second, and every other hitter on the active roster is affected in a positive way.
Springer shreds lefties, and does one other particular thing well. Unlike some hitters who play in hitter-friendly parks, Springer fares better away from Minute Maid. Here are his career OPS marks:
Home: 397 games, 79 home runs, .819 OPS.
Away: 398 games, 95 home runs, .883 OPS.
Springer made $21 million last year, but that definitely changes with the COVID discount upcoming. At some point, a player has to sign somewhere and decide where the next 6-8 months of his life will take place. The Cardinals have preached patience, meaning they are waiting for the market to either turn in their favor-or gain a pulse sometime before Valentine’s Day.
Oh, about that cheating scandal with the trash can lids, Springer was cranking long before and well after that all went down. I wouldn’t worry too much about that correlation in deciding on adding a proven, versatile bat to your weak as baby soft lineup. Just saying.
It would make perfect sense to pass on Kolten Wong’s $12.5 million option and hold off on aging franchise legends like Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina due to the need for a more proven offense. John Mozeliak could be waiting to pull off a heist. It’s not wildly far-fetched, even if I still highly doubt it at this very moment.
Sometimes, a possible trade or signing just doesn’t work. Nolan Arenado looks great from a distance, but the deep end aspect of that deal involves a drop in performance outside of Colorado and an opt-out. Francisco Lindor is the theme park that Bill DeWitt Jr. and company look up at like a young kid: They go there once or twice a summer, but never buy anything. Same for Mookie Betts before he signed, and anyone else not named Giancarlo Stanton and Jason Heyward.
If the Cardinals offer Springer a four year deal with the salary kicking in more as the contract ages, could the slugger say no? If the deal started at $75-80 million but could include incentives to kick it up a notch, I don’t think he’d say no. It wouldn’t be a back-breaking deal, especially with Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, and Andrew Miller’s salaries falling off the books before the 2022 season. The move would allow the team to open up third base for the young Nolan Gorman in the next two years. Wherever and whenever it is found, the Cardinals just need some offense.
When asked by the Two For Three St. Louis Cardinals podcast on Monday night what the team needed the most, the answer came easy. Offense. Better hitters. More talent at the plate. An energizing bat with some thump. Something.
George Springer could change the lineup in an instant, sharing time in all outfield spots, allowing Dylan Carlson to mature naturally instead of in a rushed fashion. Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler will find their fair share of starts, but they would be the penciled-in decision instead of the choice written in pen hours before first pitch.
Here’s the thing. I don’t expect the team to even think about making this move. I’m just stating that it’s not impossible and makes a LOT of sense.
Suit yourself, Cardinal Nation. Thank you for reading.