There is a rumor floating around that the St. Louis Cardinals may be willing to move a young pitcher like Shelby Miller or Lance Lynn if it means acquiring a legitimate upgrade at shortstop. The Cards got very little production out of their shortstops in 2013. They have been linked to several big-name shortstops in recent seasons, so if there is a time to make a deal for one, this offseason is the time.
I don’t think Cardinals fans want to suffer through another pitiful season from incumbent shortstop Pete Kozma, so the Cardinals trading for or signing a shortstop seems to be a real possibility. In 2013, Kozma hit just .217/.275/.273 with one home run and a terrible 50 wRC+.
A few names that the Cardinals have been linked to recetly include Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians and Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox. Tulowitzki would provide the biggest upgrade, but he has a rather large contract that the Cardinals would have to take on. Cabrera had a down year in 2013, so he may be a nice buy-low option. Ramirez is a slick-fielding shortstop with very little power offensively.
In 2013, Tulowitzki hit .312/.391/.540 with a 143 wRC+ in 512 plate appearances. The biggest concerns surrounding Tulo include his injury problems and his huge contract. He is in the midst of a 10-year contract that ends after the 2020 season. The contract as a whole is worth $157.8 million. Along with being a great hitter, Tulowitzki is also known as one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
Last season, Cabrera hit just .242/.299/.402 with a below-average 95 wRC+. He is also a tad below average defensively, but he makes sparkling defensive plays that cause some fans to view him as a plus defender. Cabrera wasn’t even worth a full win above replacement level in 2013.
For the White Sox in 2013, Ramirez hit .284/.313/.380 with a 86 wRC+. He was once a power hitter, averaging just above 17 home runs per season from 2008 to 2011, but has hit just 15 home runs total since then. Ramirez, much like Tulowitzki, is viewed as a very good defensive shortstop.
The Cardinals will have plenty of options available to them this offseason. It is just going to be a matter of which player they want and what they are willing to give up to acquire the player. If we have learned anything from the Cards, however, it is that whatever they decide to do, it is probably going to be the right thing to do.