This is a follow up to my prior blog post "Cardinals Questions for 2014".
The Cardinals made two big moves that pretty much answer all of their off-season questions.
1) Who plays right field next year?
2) How do you handle David Freese, Matt Carpenter, and prospect Kolten Wong?
The Cardinals solved these two problems with one trade. They traded David Freese & Fernando Salas for Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk.
I love this trade. It gives the Cardinals so many options.
First, it allows the Cardinals to move Allen Craig to right field and put Matt Adams at first base.
Second, it moves Matt Carpenter to third and gives Kolten Wong the starting job at second base.
With Allen Craig in right field, the Cardinals were concerned with their outfield defense. They improved it greatly by getting Peter Bourjos. When healthy, he is a gold glove calibre centerfielder.
Bourjos' offense is questionable, however, he's a right handed hitter. In certain games the Cardinals can platoon Bourjos with Jon Jay, who is left handed.
In addition, Jon Jay can play right field on certain days. Jon Jay would be a huge upgrade in defense in right field over Allen Craig.
So the Cardinals improve the defense of centerfield, third base, and second base with this move. The defense in right field presumably goes down (Allen Craig < Carlos Beltran), but it's an overall big win.
In addition, it was an incredibly smart trade. The Cardinals traded a 30 year old third baseman who appeared to be in the decline on offense and defense, and only had two years of control left. They also gave up a relief pitcher who had already been demoted back to AAA.
In return they got a 26 year old centerfielder with three years of control left and potential to grow. They also got a nice mid-tier prospect to refill their minor league system with.
The only risk the Cardinals take is that Bourjos does have injury history. That is the risk they take, however the overall risk/reward appears to be favorable to the Cardinals.
3) Can the Cardinals upgrade shortstop?
The Cardinals solved this by signing Jhonny Peralta to a four year $52M contract.
While I personally preferred the signing of Stephen Drew, the signing is a decent one. It's a bit of an overpay, but not by a ridiculous amount. The Cardinals had Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, and Jake Westbrook's contracts coming off the books. So they had more than enough money to make a push for Peralta. They had enough money to even stretch the contract a little bigger than they'd be comfortable with. A 3 year contract would would have been better, but it's not a crazy stretch.
There are natural concerns over how Peralta will fair after his PED suspension last year. Regardless, his offense will be a huge upgrade over Pete Kozma in 2013. Even if Peralta regresses to his 2012 form (.239/.305/.384) it's still a good upgrade over Kozma in 2013 (.217/.275/.273).
A great thing about these offseason moves (so far) is that the Cardinals didn't give up a single high value prospect. They kept Taveras, Wong, Wacha, Miller, Rosenthal, Kelly, Lynn, Siegrist, Martinez, Piscotty, etc
In addition, by not signing Stephen Drew (who had received a qualifying offer from Boston) the Cardinals retain their first round draft pick in 2014. With the Carlos Beltran signing, they'll get another first round draft pick in 2014 too.
Overall, a great set of moves that improves the offense and defense of the team, keeps the depth of the minor league system strong, doesn't overburden the team with a huge contract, and keeps draft picks for the future.