Good morning from Las Vegas and the first full day of the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings. A huge percentage of the baseball world will be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino through Thursday morning, and although many people arrived over the weekend, the meetings hit their stride today. The Cardinals are of course represented by a full complement of front office staff as well as manager Mike Shildt and are positioned to spend the week seeking answers to the questions they still find in their roster construction.
– President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak and General Manager Michael Girsch were in harmony on Friday during the press conference to introduce new first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Both conceded that it’s likely the starting eight position players on opening day in Milwaukee are already in the organization, thus likely relegating the team to background players in the unfolding sweepstakes for Bryce Harper.
– Girsch and Mozeliak identified a left-handed bat, left handed reliever, and backup catcher as pieces the team still needs to add. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported the team’s interest in ex-Cardinal and recent Diamondback Daniel Descalso, and sources have confirmed that interest. While declining to speak in detail about specific players, a team official also conceded that former Miami Marlins outfielder Derek Dietrich would be a fit for that position. Dietrich has extensive experience as an infielder but is considered limited on the defensive side of the ball.
– Descalso would be an intriguing addition to the Cardinals in the clubhouse as well as on the field. He’s good friends with Goldschmidt and reached out to encourage him about the St. Louis baseball environment after the trade. The two had lockers next door to each other last season in the Arizona clubhouse.
– The Cardinals may be loath to invest heavily in a headline relief pitcher like Zach Britton or Andrew Miller, in part due to their struggles in seeing returns on large contracts signed by relievers in recent years. Still, because the Cardinals’ financial commitment to Goldschmidt was relatively modest in baseball terms (his $14.5 million salary and a $1 million bonus due Goldschmidt as a result of being traded), they have sufficient flexibility to swim in deep relief waters if they are so inclined.
– Though a backup catching option may present itself without much complication – a reunion with Francisco Peña makes a great deal of sense – it’s unlikely that that situation is resolved by the end of the week. Girsch conceded Friday that the team might benefit from seeking out a defense-first veteran who would accept a non-roster invitation to Spring Training in order to maintain maximum flexibility on the 40-man roster throughout the winter. Peña arrived in St. Louis under those circumstances last season.
– An industry source expressed doubt that the Cardinals would have interest in a reunion with Matt Adams due to his limited defensive flexibility.
– People I’ve spoken to about last week’s trade between the Cardinals and Diamondbacks have expressed surprise that the Diamondbacks have centered so much of their focus on Carson Kelly. Kelly, though blocked by Yadier Molina, has produced uneven results when given opportunities in the big leagues.
– Congratulations to former Cardinals closer Lee Smith, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era Committee. Smith, who recorded 160 saves and posted a 2.90 ERA over parts of four seasons in St. Louis, was a unanimous selection by the committee. He’ll be in town to celebrate and be celebrated at the annual BBWAA awards dinner on January 20th.
– The Vegas Golden Knights hosted representatives from several MLB franchises for their game against the Dallas Stars on Sunday night. The collection of front office staffers observed some of the unique aspects of Vegas’s in-game presentation and took an up-close look at the energetic home crowd.