Three straights years without making the playoffs is too long for a Cardinals franchise that prioritizes winning over anything else. Expect them to go all in for 2019.
Current State: World Series Contender
Cardinals Acquire 1B Paul Goldschmidt in Exchange for RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, IF Andy Young, and a Competitive Balance Pick
In a trade that completely changes the course of this season, the Cardinals have acquired star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in exchange for starting pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, infield prospect Andy Young, and a Competitive Balance selection. Goldschmidt, 31, was terrific last season after a slow start. He had a .922 OPS with 33 home runs and a 5.4 WAR. He continues to excel at getting on base (career .398 OBP), and he actually had a career high hard contact rate last season of 46.2%. Not only is Goldschmidt an outstanding hitter, but he also remains an above average defender (6 drs), and a stellar baserunner (averaging 18 SB a year). He’s a rare all around player at first base and an MVP candidate every season, and St.Louis traded away expendable players to get him. Weaver has been inconsistent and was lost with the flurry of St.Louis’ young pitchers. Meanwhile, Kelly seemed to lose the job as catcher after Yadier Molina to catching prospect Andrew Knizner, while Young is the classic late round pick overachiever. The Cardinals traded quantity rather than quality, which was a smart move. It’s not often a team can trade for a constant MVP candidate who’s arguably the best at his position without losing any key players, but that’s the case with St.Louis here. Goldschmidt may be on the last year of his contract, but this makes the Cardinals a significantly better team in 2019, and it’s easy to see the two parties possibly agree on an extension down the line.
Cardinals Sign RP Andrew Miller
To upgrade their bullpen, the Cardinals have signed left-handed reliever Andrew Miller to a two year, $25 million contract, with a third year vesting option. Miller, 33, is coming off an unusual down year. Injuries limited him to 37 appearances, and he posted a 4.24 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP and a 3.51 FIP. Still, he posted a 1.74 ERA and 14.5 K/9 between 2014 and 2017. This is the first set off injuries Miller has suffered in his career in a while, so it’s unfair to label him as injury prone, though the recent flurry of injuries is worrisome. When looking at Miller’s past season, it’s clear where faltered. He allowed hard contact at an alarming 41.4% rate, his strikeout rate was down, and his walk rate was up. While injuries have something to do with this, some of these struggles may be due to regression that is inevitable for a reliever that was overworked in the 2016 postseason. Either way, St.Louis is taking a serious gamble on Miller at $12.5 million per year over the next two seasons. The Cardinals needed a established and reliable reliever to pitch in their 8th or 9th inning, and taking this risk on Miller may have not been the solution. Better, more reliable options such as David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, or even Zach Britton would’ve been a better fit, though Miller helps St.Louis immensely if he returns to his old dominant form.
Cardinals Extend SP Mike Mikolas
The Cardinals have signed starting pitcher Mike Mikolas to a four-year contract extension worth $68 million. The contract will start after this season, so the Cardinals will still receive Mikolas at the very affordable $7.5 million they signed him to from Japan last offseason. At the time, Mikolas was expected to be a back-end starter, but he completely exceeded expectations. The 30-year-old posted a 2.83 ERA with a 3.28 FIP, and eclipsed 200 innings pitched. Mikolas excelled at avoiding walks (1.3 BB/9), and got batters to chase at a solid 34.2%. However, his K rate was very low (6.55 K/9), and his skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) of 3.93 suggests he’s still more of a mid-rotation starter than a front of the rotation type pitcher. Besides limiting the walks, there’s nothing else that Mikolas does particularly well, and while $17 million per season is not a huge investment, it may have been better for St.Louis to take the safer approach and see if he could replicate his success. Especially with Paul Goldschmidt set to be a free agent next offseason. the Cardinals cannot afford glutting their future payroll, and I fear they overpaid for a mid-rotation starter due to one surprise season.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Cardinals Make