(BaseballStL) -- Of all the current Cardinals getting thrown around in “Junior GM” trade proposals, and there are a lot of them, David Freese just might get thrown around the most. I get it.
He plays a position that top-five-MVP-finisher Matt Carpenter naturally plays. There’s the next big prospect ready for a Major League job where the former is currently located.
Throw in the fact Freese had a down year (.262 avg, 9 HRs, 60 RBIs) and is due to start making more than $4 million and you have the proverbial odd man out.
To that, however, I say hogwash.
For a multitude of reasons, David Freese needs to return in 2014. First and foremost, if nothing else, he would provide a heck of a bat off the bench that this team has not had in years. They tried with Ty Wigginton. They had one with Matt Adams until he was forced to start due to Allen Craig’s injury. The result has been a very weak bench with little-to-no pop.
Would $4 million be a lot for someone backing up Matt Carpenter at third base and Matt Adams or Allen Craig at first? Sure. But don’t sit here and tell me this team can’t afford it given all the salaries that are coming off the books. With Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Rafael Furcal and Edward Mujica leaving, a ton of money has been freed up.
Even with the addition of another high priced star, Freese’s salary could easily be swallowed by the payroll.
The next reason Freese needs to return is Kolten Wong insurance. I’m as much of a fan of Wong as the next person, but how can anyone in good conscience just hand him the second base gig with no other real options?
I’m sure Wong will hit. I’m sure he’ll play extremely well. But wouldn’t he play even better if he wasn’t guaranteed anything?
It’s human nature for someone to get the most out of themselves when pushed by competition. It’s only natural. Like I said earlier, if Wong produces and takes the lion’s share of at-bats at second base (pushing Carpenter to third on those days and thus Freese to the bench) that’s not the worst thing in the world. Freese helps the bench.
It would provide a nice transition year until 2015 when Wong really would necessitate all the at-bats at second base and Freese’s salary would jump even higher. Then I could understand moving Freese.
But not now. Not while the bench needs help like it does. Not while Wong is completely unproven and another option is needed.
Keep David Freese for another year.