The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Thursday that shortstop Rafael Furcal will spend the 2013 season on the disabled list (collecting the $7 million the Cardinals are required to pay him by the way), as he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. There is already a shortage of quality shortstops in the league, but for the Cardinals it’s double-indemnity, as they have nothing in the way of a top prospect at that position in their minor league system right now.
So what are the Cardinals options? The can go with Pete Kozma, who is a nice player, but definitely isn’t going to post the kind of numbers that the Cardinals need, and will probably have them looking for a replacement by the All-Star break. They could go after the #1 prospect in all of baseball, but it’s doubtful that the Texas Rangers are going to part ways with Jurickson Profar. They can go with a shortstop-by-committee, and platoon a good bat and a good glove, hoping the combination will work out.
None of these options sound very appealing, so the Cardinals may be forced to make some moves long before the madness of the July trade deadline even gets close.
The Cardinals have several options to offer up from their minor league system (other than shortstops) such as P Carlos Martinez, but if some of their prospects at other positions–like 1B Matt Adams, P Michael Wacha and OF Oscar Taveras–come through early enough in the season, I’d look for St. Louis to make guys like Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Joe Kelly available for teams that have early holes to plug up and want veterans to step in.
The loss of Furcal will no doubt cause some ripples in the Cardinals lineup and middle infield, but with some creative thinking St. Louis should be able to replace him despite being depleted of shortstops down on the farm.