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Would Cardinals have been better off with Kemp over Heyward?

It was a good move for the St. Louis Cardinals to land Jason Heyward to play right field after the tragic loss of Oscar Taveras this off-season.

But I worry that the Redbirds could pay a very high price for only one year of Heyward if they can't sign the Gold Glove outfielder to a contract extension, losing young and cheap starting pitcher Shelby Miller in the swap.

So it gives me a little pause this morning that the Los Angeles Dodgers traded slugging outfielder Matt Kemp after years of speculation. The fact that LA sent Kemp to a division rival, the San Diego Padres, for a mediocre package and kicked in $30 million toward Kemp's $107 remaining salary makes the star outfielder seem as if he was there for the taking if the Redbirds would have made a play.

That works out of $15.4 million for each of five seasons. A lot of money to be sure. But the Cardinals aren't likely to able to re-sign Heyward for that amount of cash.

I guess only time will tell if St. Louis made the right move.

If the club can ink Heyward to an extension, there's a lot to be said for having a 25-year-old player around for the long term as compared to the 30-year-old Kemp. Also, there is the matter of Kemp's health. He played only slightly more than half of the Dodgers games in 2012 and '13. But last year he rebounded to play 150 games and hit .287 with 25 homers. 

Still, Kemp has slowed down and has had to move to the outfield corners since he's not really capable of playing centerfield anymore. How much will his defense continue to degrade?

The concern about Heyward is that he's been messed up by the Atlanta Braves odd desire to turn a big dude with power into a lead-off man. Heyward hit for power his first season before Atlanta opted for the change. Can he regain his power stroke at will if the Cardinals use him in a more appropriate role?

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