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St. Louis Cardinals: 3 Top Remaining Free Agents to Keep An Eye On

The MLB is officially on lockout. As many of you know, this is due to the inability of the owners and players to come to an agreement of terms called the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).

Many different variables including luxury tax thresholds, revenue sharing, potential draft lottery, designated hitter, expanded playoffs, etc. are to be some of the points of discussion between the two parties.

Rob Manfred Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbocast

That said, free agency is on hold the same way that Major League Baseball itself is on hold, until an agreement can be reached. It could take weeks. It could take months. Hopefully it gets resolved and will not interfere with the beginning of the 2022 season.

Prior to the lockout, many teams and players prioritized getting deals done in order to have that sense of security and direction heading into the new year.

Many of the game’s top free agents have already found homes with new clubs & huge contracts, however it’s just under half of the top 50 that were available including a host of other serviceable players.

Max Scherzer via jersey swap 2021 (Gray) - Citi Field Background

The likes of Max Scherzer, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman & Javy Baez are off the books while Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, Nick Castellanos & Anthony Rizzo head the available players yet to sign.

As it pertains to the St. Louis Cardinals, a few names that I think could be of team interest, might not all be in the “top tier” class, but there are several impact players that we can entertain the idea of during this lockout.

In this piece I’ll talk about three pipe dream candidates for me personally.

Nick Castellanos Photo Credit: AP Photo/Aaron Doster

First up, Nick Castellanos. Yes, I’m aware last season he was the villain that flexed on Jake Woodford at home plate resulting in the benches clearing during a Reds/Cardinals game. I’m also aware that St. Louis would not be eager to spend a lot on a guy that would have to be slotted into the DH role. As I’ve seen projected contracts for him range from 3-yrs $60M to 5-yrs $100M +.

But I see a player that despite his consistently below average defense, is one of the best available hitters in this year’s free agent class. We wouldn’t be acquiring him for his glove and we’ve got a set outfield of young studs with two of them earning Gold Gloves.

It’s that bat that is appealing. Castellanos had a slashline of .309/.362/.576 with 34 HR & 100 RBI. He was an All-Star, a Silver Slugger and at 30 years old, I would imagine won’t be slowing down offensively any time soon (especially if he is used primarily as a designated hitter).

Nick Castellanos Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds did offer him a qualifying offer so if the Cardinals did sign him, they would lose a pick in the upcoming draft. Another reason that this is more of a pipe dream acquisition than anything else.

But could you imagine him in the Cardinals current lineup? He may not be the lefty bat that turns Mozeliak on, but he’s a threat and a game changer in the batter’s box.

Trevor Story Photo Credit: Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Secondly, I’d say Trevor Story may be what the Cardinals need. There have been rumors surrounding Story to St. Louis and despite Mo saying the Cardinals still have faith in Paul DeJong, the former Colorado Rockies SS could provide St. Louis with great play on both sides of the ball.

Story is coming off a down year, and he’s another player that will more than likely command a contract north of $100M for 5+ seasons, which may be more than the front office is willing to shell out.

There’s always the worry that a player’s production away from Coors Field will not be duplicated with a new club, but we did see Nolan Arenado do quite well last season.

Trevor Story Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Story’s .251/.329/.471 slashline in 2021 with 24 HR doesn’t seem like a player to throw $20M+ at in a long multi-year contract, but when you take a look at his solid defense as well as career slashline of .272/.340/.523 with capabilities of 30+ HR consistently, he seems like a perfect candidate to wear the Birds on a Bat.

The Cardinals could either choose to move on from Paul DeJong or given the cost of contract, keep him as a bench player who could occasionally DH, pinch hit, etc. to re-establish some confidence & value.

Carlos Rodon Photo Credit: Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire

Third on my list, is a starting pitcher that realistically I think the Cardinals could acquire on a two or three year deal given some of his previous injuries. The soon to be 29 year lefty Carlos Rodon.

Hear me out.

Yes, for his career his ERA is 3.79, with a record of 42-38. Yes he’s had arthroscopic shoulder surgery a few seasons ago as well as Tommy John surgery in early 2019. The White Sox were even willing to non-tender him a contract last December, and brought him back on a 1-yr $3M deal a month later.

Rodon was probably one of the most bangs for your buck at that cost last season, as he impressed to a 13-5 W/L record, sported a 2.37 ERA on the year, accumulated 185 strikeouts, pitched a no-hitter and was named an All-Star.

Granted, the Cardinals did just sign a lefty in Steven Matz, and do have 2 future lefty starters in the minors in Zack Thompson & Matthew Liberatore, but currently St. Louis only has Genesis Cabrera, recently signed T.J. McFarland & Brandon Waddell on the 40-man that throws from that side in the pen.

Carlos Rodon Photo Credit: Ron Vesely/Getty Images

If the Cardinals would entertain either a six-man rotation, or sliding one of either Dakota Hudson or Miles Mikolas to the pen, Rodon could build upon his impressive last season in a pitcher friendly park that is Busch Stadium with Gold Glove defense behind him.

Rodon likely won’t consider a one-year deal this winter according to his agent Scott Boras, but he also doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to him either. If the Cardinals had any interest at all in SP Marcus Stroman and was entertaining his services, there’s no reason they shouldn’t at least be enquiring on Rodon.

Again, these are just my opinions. I am not overly stat-driven in voicing them the same way it’s easy for me (and all of us fans) to spend Bill DeWitt Jr.’s money in our heads from the comfort of our recliners at home.

What say you, Cardinals Nation? Would any of these three be a game changer acquisition that appeases the front office as well as the fan base?

Let us know in the comments. As always thanks for reading and Go Cards!

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