As the chilly weather rolls in, the MLB offseason is in full swing. So, let’s take a look at the top five free agent targets that John Mozeliak and the Cardinals could go after .
#5: Taylor Rogers/ Andrew Chafin
The Cardinals will look to add a reliever or two for the bullpen, and looking at this reliever class the most intriguing players I find are left handed relievers Taylor Rogers and Andrew Chafin. The Cardinals' lefty situation going into 2023 is Zack Thompson, Packy Naughton, and JoJo Romero, who are all unproven. What this pen could use is a veteran presence, which both Rogers and Chafin bring. Rogers had a down 2022, rocking a 4.76 ERA. However, he’s proven in the past that he can be a lockdown late game reliever. As to Chafin, he had a much better year pitching to a 2.83 ERA with the lowly Tigers. Both pitchers would be a good addition to the team and would excel with a Gold Glove defense behind them.
#4 Trea Turner/ Xander Bogaerts
Hear me out. The Cardinals don’t need a shortstop, as we have Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan to be in our middle infield, BUT with the addition of one of the big name shortstops, it allows the Cardinals to get active on the trade market to fill out our needs. As to Trea and Xander, both did phenomenal last year. Trea Turner had a .298 batting average with 21 home runs and 100 RBI’s with 27 stolen bases. He’s the definition of a 5 tool player and would be a phenomenal addition next to Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. For Bogaerts, he had a slight down year hitting .307 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI’s. He’s not as good of a defender as Turner, but the Cardinals have shown previous interest in him; so anything is possible.
#3 Michael Brantley
One of the Cardinals biggest needs is a veteran left handed bat who can slot in as a 4th outfielder or a DH. The market isn’t the greatest to fill that need, however out of all the options Brantley checks the boxes very nicely. In only 64 games last year Brantley hit .288 with 5 home runs and 26 RBI’s. By no means is he a power bat anymore, but he is an on base machine. Putting him with the likes of Goldschmidt, Arenado, Nootbaar and Edman, he would excel very nicely in this lineup if the Cardinals decide to go that way.
#2 Jose Quintana
Last year during the MLB trade deadline when the Cardinals traded for Quintana my expectations were low, I was expecting a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA who was just here to eat innings. We got the complete opposite instead, as in 12 starts with the Cardinals Quintana pitched to a 3-2 record with a 2.01 ERA which was good enough to secure him the Game 1 start in the Wild Card series against the Phillies. Our rotation looks solid as is but adding Quintana back into the mix, who was our best pitcher in the 2nd half, makes St. Louis much stronger. More importantly a much deeper rotation allows for much more flexibility than Cardinals fans are used to seeing.
#1 Willson Contreras
John Mozeliak has already made it public that the Cardinals number one priority is to secure an everyday catcher to replace future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina, who retired at the end of last season. The best free agent on the market is former Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras who hit .243 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI’s. It was a down year to say the least, but when he’s paired with better hitters who can protect him in the lineup I fully expect his value to skyrocket. I do want to mention St. Louis has been rumored to other catchers via trade but if we decide to go the free agent route Contreras is the best available.
If all things go right, St. Louis is in for a big offseason to hopefully get the key pieces for the hunt for a 12th world championship.