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St. Louis Cardinals free agent watch: Sandoval wants six years

Hopes that San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval could be attained for a reasonable price seem to be going out the window.

Talk out of San Francisco was that Sandoval wanted a contract similar to Giants teammate Hunter Pence's 5-year, $90-million deal. But the switch hitter's agent told the San Francisco Chronicle that Sandoval wants at least a six-year contract and that the bidding starts at $100 million.

I liked Sandoval as a possible addition to the St. Louis Cardinals because he's a well-established clutch hitter. The fact that he hits from both sides of the plate would be a bonus for a lefty heavy batting order. 

But I don't like him so much that I'd be willing to commit to him for six-plus years. He has physical fitness issues that make me wonder what kind of player the 28 year old will be when he's in his mid thirties. Look at Prince Fielder who played through a weight issue for the bulk of his career (pun intended) before breaking down in his age 30 season.

The Cardinals could wait to see if Sandoval, a player with a wealth of post-season experience, comes back down to earth in the marketplace. But, as we have learned over the past several seasons, it only takes one fool with a whole bunch of money to ruin the best laid plans of more reasonable general managers.

Giancarlo Stanton might be the one guy the Cardinals would go big contract gaga over. But the Miami Marlins say that they're currently talking with their star right fielder about a mega contract extension. And, if that fails, the Birds might have a lot tougher time putting together a package to land Stanton with the tragic loss of super prospect Oscar Taveras subtracting significantly from the Birds outfield depth.

The Redbirds might be better served to find a player who is available on a shorter contract as well as one who can play in the outfield.

Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nelson Cruz, who played against the Cardinals in the 2011 World Series as a member of the Texas Rangers, might be a Reggie Sanders type acquisition for St. Louis.

Cruz is 34, so he's likely to be attainable for a much shorter contract. I'd think three years sounds appropriate. But word out of Baltimore is that he's asking for something in the four years and $60 million range.

Although he carries the stigma of being a PED-linked player, it didn't seem to bother the Cardinals to bring fellow PED guy Jhonny Peralta on board. And, with Cruz presumably clean in 2014 with the spotlight on him, he had his best power season in the majors with 40 homers.

Over the last six seasons, Cruz has been a .273 hitter who averaged 26 homers and 89 RBIs. He might look nice perched between Matt Holliday and Matt Adams in the cleanup spot for the Cardinals. Hopefully Adams power outage in 2014 was an anomaly and he'll get back to swatting some dingers in 2015 and beyond.

If that's the case, and the Cardinals inked Cruz, they could have a nasty 3-4-5 in the order which ought to solve their offensive woes of 2014.

Cruz isn't an especially good outfielder, which we saw when he couldn't wrangle David Freese's Game 6-tying triple in the 2011 fall classic. But, with all due respect to Tavares, he wasn't the best fly chaser, either. It was his bat that the Cardinals needed and will miss the most.