Over the last week, the Cardinals have made two moves that have locked up and solidified the left side of the infield for years to come. It has also, for the first time in years, guaranteed strength at two positions that have not always been the strongest positions on the team.
The Cards have had a sort of rotating door at shortstop for years. For the short period when Rafeal Furcal was healthy, the team was getting production. But when he was hurt, they had to rely on the likes of Ryan Theriot and Pete Kozma. Those experiments did not pan out and SS has remained a weak spot on the lineup.
Somewhat similarly at third base, David Freese has been good when healthy, but Cardinal fans are very privy on his health issues and it became impossible to rely on a full season from Freese, regardless of what kind of production he gave when he was at a hundred percent.
Last week, the Cardinals signed Matt Carpenter to a 6 year, $52 million dollar extension. The contract particulars per year include:
- 6 years guaranteed
- $52 million guaranteed (including a $1.5 million signing bonus)
- 2014: $1 million
- 2015: $3.5 million
- 2016: $6.25 million
- 2017: $9.75 million
- 2018: $13.5 million
- 2019: $14.5 million
- 2020: Club option for $18.5 million or $2 million buyout
Last year, Carpenter put up MVP numbers. He is 28 years old and his current contract will carry him until he is 34 years old. Those are some prime years the Cards will get from the third baseman, and hopefully some career stats will come with it.
Along with the extension, the Cards signed Cuban free-agent shortstop Aledmys Diaz to a 4 year, $8 million dollar contract. Diaz is a very promising signing, but isn’t quite the guarantee that Carpenter is. There are some major questions surrounding him. Can he stick at SS? Is his bat good enough to transfer to another position? Where does he start next season?
The signing is ultimately a good risk for the Cardinals, and in comparison to other recent Cuban defectors, is a bargain for the team.
Another benefit of the Diaz signing was the prior signing of Jhonny Peralta in the off-season. By signing Peralta to a 4 year, $52 million year contract, they have locked up the position for years to come. And that hasn’t changed at all. It does make the Diaz singing slightly confusing. But it is definitely a good problem for the team to have.
Other safety nets on the left side of the infield
The minor leaguer has been in the wings for years, waiting for his chance to come up. Last year with Memphis he hit an impressive .281/.386/.403. The high on base pct and the ability to steal bases positions Garcia to be a solid top-of-the-order player.
Most Cardinals’ fans would be happy to never see Kozma be a regular-day starter again. But desperate times may call for desperate measures. And with DL stints inevitable, Kozma could fill in at times. He is also still young, so development and improvement are possible.
Mercado was drafted 57 overall last year by the Cards. The 18 year-old is a slender 6’2, 175 pounds. He is an option later down the road, but has promising upside. A Bleacher Report scouting report ranks him on the 80-point scale at:
So a lot of questions remained unanswered. But they are good questions to have. Along with having two proven All-Stars at third and shortstop next year, the Cardinals also have many more options in the future.