(Forgive me for looking too far ahead. But on an off-day before the St. Louis Cardinals start their NLDS playoff battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers, there is a little down time to ponder the future.)
ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Oakland Athletics are likely to deal slugging corner infielder Josh Donaldson this offseason.
Should the St. Louis Cardinals, who have a glut of lefty hitters and a need for a righty power bat, make a play?
Donaldson cracked 29 homers and drove in 98 runs while playing his home games in one of the toughest power parks in the majors in 2014. He batted only .255 but in 2013 he hit .301 with an on base percentage of .384. He had 24 homers and 93 RBIs.
He'll potentially head to his first arbitration hearing before the 2015 season, giving the team that owns his rights at least four years of control.
Donaldson plays third base most of the time but is capable of playing first base and has even logged some innings as a catcher. So he could offer the Redbirds some defensive flexibility.
To fit Donaldson into the St. Louis lineup, the Cardinals would have to displace first baseman Matt Adams, third baseman Matt Carpenter or second baseman Kolten Wong with Carpenter returning to second base. While those players have been valuable to the Redbirds, they're all lefty hitters, contributing to the vulnerability of the Redbirds offense.
If the Cardinals traded Wong to the Athletics in a deal for Donaldson, they'd sacrifice team speed. Donaldson is a below average runner. That might be the main reason that holds general manager John Mozeliak back. He's made an effort in the last year to improve the Birds' quickness. But outfielder Peter Bourjos couldn't hit well enough to justify a starting position. If Wong is dealt -- or removed as a starter -- that would put the Cardinals firmly back in the slow lane.
Still, the Cardinals have to do something to improve their offense going into next year. So they'd have to displace a player they apparently like somewhere.