Given the lack of win-now moves by the National League Central teams this off-season, it’s easy to forget that the division provided four postseason teams last year. Sure, only one of them won a playoff game – the Cardinals who only won one – but still a quarter of it
Given the lack of win-now moves by the National League Central teams this off-season, it’s easy to forget that the division provided four postseason teams last year. Sure, only one of them won a playoff game – the Cardinals who only won one – but nonetheless, a quarter of last year’s 16-man postseason field came from NL Central. They are hardly irrelevant.
One would think that every NL Central team would have to make some moves, some moves, before the season starts. In that spirit of hope and optimism, here is a step any team with players still in the free agent market could take to help their club move into 2021. This is still reasonable given the team’s obvious strategy. (Sorry, this means no Trevor Bauer is returning to Cincinnati.)
This is no idle chatter. One of those teams will end up winning that division and eventually making it to the postseason. This time it may not be four, but there is no question that this division is important for all appearances.
The Cubs are clearly not going to be big funders this winter: they just traded away a # 1 starter (Yu Darvish) under a relatively reasonable contract from a team that won NL Central in 2020, and the top remaining starters are likely short-sighted .
But Archer makes a lot of sense. It probably won’t cost much as he missed all of 2020 while recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome and hasn’t really been an above average pitcher since … ’15. Even so, Archer’s strike rate has always been good, even when he’s struggling, and he’s clearly got all that a make-good contract can get for him. And hey, he was in the organization of the Cubs until they traded him in a package for Matt Garza in January 2011. Maybe Chicago is the team that can finally get it right.
The market seems to be scratching itself out on Pederson, who seems, with some justification, to be viewed too much as a move player to get starting outfielder money. But here the weaknesses and strengths of the cardinals work well together in the outfield.
St. Louis has a number of outfielders: Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Lane Thomas, Justin Williams, and even Austin Dean. The problem is, at this point, you can’t trust any of them (except maybe Carlson) to be an ordinary gamer. This could have prevented the Cardinals from chasing someone like Michael Brantley, but it might make them perfect for Pederson, who would basically play right-handed and shuffled and matched against left-handed games. (O’Neill, Bader, and Thomas all beat right-handed.)
And above all, the cardinals need power. Pederson definitely offers that. Can the market get so low that the cards can get involved? With the signatures of George Springer (of Toronto) and Brantley (of Houston), Pederson’s options may be cleared up.
Gregorius would probably make the Reds lineup a little left-handed, and all in all, Andrelton Simmons might have passed better, but he’s on his way to Minnesota now. Gregorius, who made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2012, is the last notable shortstop.
Gregorius is still better than putting Jose Garcia on the market every day, and he’s an ideal year-long stopgap. And it’s not that this offense doesn’t need the help.
It’s hard to imagine the brewers keeping Luis Urías as the third baseman. (It doesn’t even sound like David Stearns, president of baseball operations, thinks they will.) It’s hard to see the crew make it big after Justin Turner, but Franco makes sense, No?
Franco had a lovely year of recovery with Kansas City in 2020, and the further we are from his Philadelphia years when he felt like a failed phenomenon, the more you can appreciate what he gives you instead of being frustrated with what he doesn’t. ‘t. He doesn’t miss a lot of time (he played all 60 games last year), he’s solid, if unspectacular, with the glove on, and he’s got a bit more pop than you might think. And he’s entering his 28 year old season so he’s not old. This might be the most obvious step on this list.
If the pirates concentrate solely on building their farm system, how about a reunion with those close by since their heyday in mid-2010? He clearly wants to stay closer, was decent in the 20s, and is exactly the kind of arm the teams are a little too desperate for at close of trade.
Could Pittsburgh get intermediate prospects for Melancon if he has a good year? Why don’t you give it a try? It’s fair to say that it won’t be overly expensive since it turns 36 in March. And he always looked good in that uniform.