If the St. Louis Cardinals could land Adam Lind for the right price, he might not only help the team in 2015.
Lind could offer some protection to the Redbirds in 2016, especially if the club isn’t able to re-sign right fielder Jason Heyward.
Lind, whose contract includes a team option for next season, would provide an in-house replacement for Jason Heyward’s bat if the Redbirds right fielder leaves as a free agent at the end of the season. While he’s primarily a first baseman, Lind has some experience playing the outfield corners at the major league level.
He’s played 224 games in left field, covering the spacious, artificial turf-covered outfield in Toronto, most recently in 2010.
It might not be an ideal situation to force Lind to switch positions. But it would be better to have a guy on hand for a reasonable option price of $8 million than to have to search the free agent market or make a trade to try to replace Heyward’s production. Lance Berkman played right field capably in 2011 after several years as a first baseman with the Houston Astros.
While I’d prefer the team keep Heyward, the options to replace him might be slim this winter.
I am skeptical that the Cardinals would be willing to shop for a big free agent this off-season because they came up empty in the competitive balance lottery for draft picks. Without an extra pick in his pocket, would St. Louis GM John Mozeliak part with a top selection as compensation for a free agent? It’s doubtful with how reliant the Redbirds have been on their top picks the last few years.
So St. Louis could install unproven outfielder Stephen Piscotty in right and hope for the best on an otherwise championship caliber team. Or it have a proven major league bat to plug in.
Another option is that the Cardinals could also exercise Lind’s option and trade him.
The hottest commodity on the trade market lately has been power hitters. Another club, especially a small market team, could be interested in adding a guy who could hit 30 homers with a good batting average without the commitment of a multi-year deal.
Either of the above options would prevent the Cardinals from Mozeliaks stated goal of not blocking Matt Adams from a return to first base when he recovers from a season-ending quad injury. (Although, with his inconsistencies at the plate the last two seasons, I’m not convinced Adams should get his job back without a fight.)
While there is a handful of players who could man first base for the Birds the rest of the way (Boston’s Mike Napoli, Baltimore’s Chris Davis are a couple) Lind seems like the best player now - and the best option for the future.
Some don’t like the idea of trading within the National League Central. But that didn’t bother the Cardinals when they traded with Milwaukee for John Axford a couple of years ago.
It’s worth the risk when the Cardinals have such a promising future