With the Colorado Rockies’ signing of free-agent outfielder Gerardo Parra on Tuesday, they have a surplus of left-handed-hitting outfielders.
It seems like a prime time for the St. Louis Cardinals, who could use a left-handed-swinging outfielder, to reopen trade discussions with Colorado.
Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon or Corey Dickerson would slide nicely into what is now an all-right-handed-hitting outfield in St. Louis, although the Cardinals claim to be comfortable with their current alignment.
But let’s get down to it, and it’s really quite simple. The Cardinals have a need in the outfield, the Rockies have somewhat of a need at first base and the Cardinals have a first baseman they might no longer need in Matt Adams.
If General Manager John Mozeliak can get Colorado to take Adams off the Cardinals’ hands, and trade a couple of the Cardinals’ precious commodities, could a deal get done?
Adams was injured last year, but would have a power upside in Coors Field. The Rockies’ first basemen are Ben Paulsen and former Cardinal Mark Reynolds.
Gonzalez might be the Cardinals’ preferred target. He is an established hitter, having walloped a career-high 40 home runs in the thin Denver air last season while batting .271.
“Cargo,” however, is 30 and has been dogged by injuries. He has played 145 games or more just twice in an eight-year career that began in 2008 with the Oakland A’s.
Gonzalez is a two-time All-Star who would balance the Cardinals’ lineup. The Rockies almost certainly would want left-hander Marco Gonzales, who was raised in Colorado and has had injury issues of his own the last two years.
The Rockies likely would ask for a big-leaguer like Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk, too, players the Cardinals value. Top pitching prospect Alex Reyes could be on Colorado’s radar. It wouldn’t be an easy pill for the Cardinals to swallow.
If Colorado instead is pushing Dickerson, 26, or Blackmon, 29, the appeal becomes even greater, and the cost could be steeper, too.
While Gonzalez has two years and $37 million remaining on his contract, Dickerson and Blackmon would be under the Cardinals’ control. Blackmon can’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season; Dickerson won’t reach free agency until after the 2019 season.
Blackmon and Dickerson are polished hitters. Blackmon played mostly in center field last year and batted .287 with 31 doubles, 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 43 stolen bases in 157 games. The Cardinals could sorely use his speed. They stole just 69 bases in 2015.
Dickerson, meanwhile, batted .304 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 65 games last season. When healthy, he spent most of his time in left field. He is not a threat on the bases.
Dickerson suffered broken ribs diving for a fly ball July 30 in St. Louis. He returned Sept. 8 and showed no ill effects of the injury, batting .282 in his final 22 games.
It doesn’t seem like the Cardinals are working out Matt Holliday at first base in Jupiter, Fla., just for the heck of it. That’s not the way they conduct business. Things are done for a reason, with purpose.
Left-handed-hitting Brandon Moss still is available to play first base, too, and if Holliday can warm to the position to make room for one of the three Rockies outfielders, the Cardinals would have a better team. Moss can be used to provide an occasional breather for Holliday, and he also has the skills to play a serviceable left field and right field.
Holliday endured a tough 2015, with two injuries to his right quadriceps. It’s unrealistic to expect the aging All-Star, who turns 36 on Friday, to play left field any longer.
The Rockies gave Parra a three-year, $26 million contract. They’re not paying him to sit on the bench, and there’s no room on Colorado’s roster for four left-handed-hitting outfielders, all of whom deserve to be in the everyday lineup.
Backup catcher Brayan Pena, reserve infielder Jedd Gyorko and right-handed starter Mike Leake have been nice, and necessary, off-season additions for the Cardinals. But now it’s time for Mozeliak to swoop in and fill the club’s biggest need.