Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal has jumped on an issue that Cardinals fans have been talking about all season:
With Matt Carpenter hitting so well and Kolten Wong pushing toward the major leagues, will the Cardinals part ways with third baseman David Freese and move Carpenter back to his natural position?
Rosenthal argues that the move will be a cost saver for St. Louis since Freese makes more than $3 million a season now and he's almost certain to get a raise through arbitration. But with all the very young talent on the major league roster, I wonder if the Cardinals are all tht worried about the money.
Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, Jake Westbrook and Carlos Beltran could all be free agents at the end of the year. If the Redbirds let them all walk, that's $41 million off the books for next season. Adam Wainwright will get a $7.5 million raise, Randy Choate's income will go up $1.5 million and Yadier Molina's pay check will go up by a million a year. Plus a couple of other guys will work up the arbitration scale. But that still leaves about $30 million -- plus Freese's $3.15 million in the pot.
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I don't believe money will be the deciding factor when it comes to David Freese, the star of the 2011 World Series and a guy who has had a very productive bat in the St. Louis line-up when he's healthy. I think the Cardinals are more concerned with Freese's health than with his paycheck. And as long as they can keep re-upping him through arbitration for one year at a time, I don't see why they would give him away.
Trading Freese doesn't seem to be a great option at this point. At least not until after the season. I'd be strongly opposed to upsetting the chemistry of the team with the best record in baseball as it tries to make a run at the postseason for the purpose of trying to save a few bucks in 2014.
If the Redbirds are to make a trade this year, it is likely going to be for relief pitching. And I wonder if teams that would have pieces to deal would be interested in a 30-year-old player who is only under team control for two more years. They'd probably be much more interesting in Wong. But I wonder if the Cardinals would be willing to swap a player they've been so high on, regardless of the redundancy at his position.
Besides, thanks to his World Series heroics and his hometown roots, I believe Freese has a lot more value to the Cardinals than he holds for other teams.
While Freese got off to a terrible start, he's been a major part of the Cardinals' surge over the last month. He's been hitting .351 with three homers and 16 RBIs. When the Cardinals win, Freese hits .330. When they lose, he hits .207.