ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – So the Slugger Formerly Known As Mike didn’t want to come here, after all. After months of speculation and silence, meetings and courtship, he finally made that crystal clear on Friday.
The Cardinals were notified by Giancarlo Stanton’s camp that the reigning NL MVP is not going to waive his no-trade clause to come to St. Louis. After one of their most serious pursuits of a player in some time — and an agreement with the Marlins in place — the Redbirds will now send their shopping cart down another aisle.
“While we are disappointed in his decision, we will continue to make every effort to improve our club for the upcoming season,” Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. said in a statement released by the team.
Yes, there is a lot to do. Truth be told, Stanton was still just one piece of the puzzle. A very expensive piece, yes. But he represented only one of the many items on John Mozeliak’s list.
“Unfortunately we were not able to convince Stanton to waive his no-trade clause and join the Cardinals,” said Mozeliak, the team’s president of baseball operations. “We felt this was a great landing spot for him, but it was not meant to be.”
If Mozeliak sounds a bit discouraged in that statement, you’re right. But make no mistake about it… he’s already a move or two ahead. Did DeWitt and Mozeliak think Stanton was a slam dunk for them? No way. It’s a business, after all, and Stanton had the right to approve any deal he wanted.
He doesn’t want to come to St. Louis? Fine. Now it’s time to find players who do. Relief pitchers who do. Oh, do they need relievers.
When it came to 2017, the Cardinals struggled holding leads — one-run leads were, let’s say, a problem — and under no circumstance should they go back to last season’s bullpen. The Cards absolutely must identify a closer. An attractive option is Alex Colome of the Rays, who led the majors with 47 saves in 2017. Colome would come at a price, but Mozeliak and the front office have shown they are rich with prospects if the right player comes along. In short, they can make any deal they want – if the player doesn’t have “no-trade” power.
And let’s talk about the Marlins, shall we? They liked the Cardinals’ offer for Stanton. They are clearly shedding payroll, they know exactly who the Cardinals are willing to trade, and they could make their other two starting outfielders, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, available.
If the Blue Jays are willing to part with third baseman Josh Donaldson (another former MVP), could the Cardinals entice Toronto to deal? What about the Rays’ Evan Longoria at third? They wouldn’t pursue the Orioles’ Manny Machado, would they? Well, why not?
Why not call the Nationals about Bryce Harper while you’re at it, as I suggested in a column last month? What does that hurt? You just pursued the player who once signed the richest contract in sports history, for goodness sake.
I mean, let’s not get crazy, but the Cardinals do have some nice revenue sources coming. The Fox Sports Midwest deal kicks in this year and is worth $1.3 billion. Ballpark Village, Phase Two, breaks ground next week.
Furthermore, the Cards have already acquired a starter they coveted, righthander Miles Mikolis, who could end up playing a significant role in the 2018 rotation. That contract, for two years and $15.5 million, wasn’t nearly the long-term (or short-term) salary hit of some of the other free agents out there. That could lead the team to allocate more of their budgeted payroll dollars elsewhere.
Stanton is going elsewhere. It’s not a bad day in Cardinals history. It could be the clarity they needed.