The Cardinals are certainly not used to having this much time to make decisions in the offseason. It’s not every year they’re completely finished and having postseason meetings in early to mid-October.
Yet, here they are figuring out what the heck 2017 is going to look like while other teams are still playing baseball in 2016.
One of the biggest decisions they have to make – in a relatively short period of time – is regarding Jaime Garcia. The Cards hold one more option year on him as part of the long term deal he signed with the team in 2011. It’s for $11.5 million and isn’t the no-brainer that many thought it once was a few months back.
The 30-year-old lefty finished the 2016 season with a 10-13 record and a 4.67 ERA. But most alarmingly he had a 5.60 ERA after the All Star break. In fact, that earned run average climbed substantially each month from July through the end of the year.
July: 4.86 ERA
August: 5.06 ERA
September: 6.38 ERA
So what in the world should the Cardinals do here? You already have Adam Wainwright under contract for next season along with Mike Leake and, of course, Carlos Martinez. Lance Lynn returns from Tommy John surgery and will spend one more season with the Cardinals before becoming an unrestricted free agent following the 2017 season.
That leaves one spot in the rotation. Michael Wacha is a giant question mark following a flare up of his right shoulder we all thought he was passed in 2014. Is Wacha a reliever now? Is he a depth starter? Does he need to fine tune himself in Triple-A? These are all questions we won’t really have answers to until spring training arrives.
Alex Reyes is squarely in the conversation. The flame throwing 22-year old righty had a 1.57 ERA in 46 innings after getting brought up to the big leagues. He surely would have been one of the Cardinals top three starters if they’d advanced to the postseason. Reyes will certainly be in the big leagues next year. It’s just a matter of the role.
With Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney and Luke Weaver also there as depth do the Cardinals risk taking on $11.5 million for a pitcher they may not need? Or is it worth it for depth purposes to take Garcia to spring training and wait for another team to suffer an injury. Garcia would be nice trade bait in that scenario.
The Cardinals don’t have much time to make a decision on Garcia. But, then again, they’ve already had a couple weeks to debate it because they were surprisingly left out of the postseason for the first time since 2010.
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