With the World Series behind us, the hot stove period has officially arrived. So let me start the wild speculations and supposings by mentioning that I think San Francisco Giants free agent Pablo Sandoval might look pretty good in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.
It's not a secret that the Redbirds could use some help from the right side of the plate with lefties Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay, Matt Adams and Kolten Wong expected to populate the lineup on an everyday basis as the club is now configured. Sandoval's switch hitting bat would be a great addition in the middle of the order.
A lot of folks have fantasized about adding Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton to the mix. But, if Stanton is gettable at all, Sandoval would allow St. Louis to keep the bounty of talent it would take to land Stanton in trade. Plus, he would be cheaper to sign than the best power hitter in the NL right now.
Stanton is likely to expect an Albert Pujols sort of contract extension from any team that picks him up from Miami. But talk out of San Francisco was that it would likely take about $90 million over five years to sign Sandoval. That price may have gone up, however, with the Red Sox said to be extremely interested in the corner infielder.
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Sandoval isn't a true slugger. He's only hit more than 16 homers twice in a season. But he has a reputation as a tremendous clutch hitter who consistently puts the ball in play. And, if he called Busch Stadium home instead of the Giants' roomy park, those power numbers might very well rise.
Where would he play? If I was in charge, I would plug him in at first base on most days. Matt Adams can't hit well enough against lefties (.190 against in 2014) to justify the everyday job at first. Adams has also shown the inability to be productive over an entire season. But the Cardinals could go a less conventional route and put Sandoval at third base and move Matt Carpenter to right field. Carp's played 25 games in the outfield in the big leagues and he's so versatile I'm sure he would prove to be more than capable. After all, he's started a significant number of games at first base, second base and third base. What's one more position switch?
A Sandoval signing, admittedly, might be a bit of a reach. But the Cardinals need to do something to improve their offense in 2015. It wasn't good enough last season and now the anticipated production from Oscar Taveras must be replaced, too.
Sandoval is a proven winner and he'll only be 28 next season, which makes him an attractive target.