Cheap Seats

Cardinals need to be cautiously aggressive this offseason

I'm torn about what I would like to see the St. Louis Cardinals do this off-season because of the way the game has changed over the last few years.

It used to be that the Cardinals would avoid the free agent fray and keep some "dry powder" for the mid-season trade deadline. Then they'd save money by trading to fill needs and be set for the playoff run without a major, multi-year commitment.

Unfortunately, with changes in the rules that prevent teams that acquire players through trade from acquiring compensatory draft picks and qualifying offers that guarantee teams that hold onto their free agent a high pick, players aren't nearly as available as they used to be.

The Redbirds weren't able to make a deal to improve themselves in 2013 because teams held St. Louis up for premier prospects because if the Cardinals wouldn't trade Oscar Taveras, Michael Wacha or Carlos Martinez the potential trade partner could simply try to draft someone similar. So they ended up with an offensive black hole at the bottom of their batting order in the post season.

If the Cardinals want to pick up a shortstop, they've got a better chance to do it now than they would if they wait until the middle of 2014 to make their move.

There are few options on the free agent market. So if St. Louis wants to improve at shortstop it will likely have to trade for a shortstop that is under team control, which would cost them a lot of talent.

On the other hand, I don't want to see the Birds trade any of their top talent.

I am hopeful that Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez can be the new edition of Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine. And I don't want to see them reach their peaks on other clubs.

GM John Mozeliak is going to have to be creative. But it's important that the Cardinals don't tear down too much of what they've built up over the last few years with a bumper crop of excellent prospects.