When camp breaks in February we’re expecting to see a thinner Matt Adams. Advised to work on his fitness during the offseason to improve flexibility and help alleviate some of the injury issues plaguing him the last two seasons, reports are out that he has lost nearly 25 lbs.
In an interview with John Mozeliak posted on Monday and while answering a question regarding the possible pursuit of another outfielder, Mozeliak mentioned the club was intrigued to see Adams perform this Spring.
But what if we not only get a leaner Adams, but also an extremely motivated Adams? A player determined to win the role of first baseman and middle of the order thumper.
If Adams tears the cover off the ball, and shows improved fitness to play above average first base, have the Cards painted themselves into a corner with Matt Carpenter?
Don’t get me wrong. This could be a dream scenario. Many people would prefer seeing Matt Carpenter as the everyday option at third base, and Adams as a middle of the order threat to play first base. Not that people are in a real hurry to see Adams at first, but more so to not see Jhonny Peralta at third. Adams has had trouble throughout his career facing left handed pitching. That could make for a possible return of Carpenter to first and Peralta/Gyorko at third to form a platoon against LHP. There would definitely be options. But would that stick with the club narrative this offseason of more athleticism and better defense?
Does that go against the stability the club has shown to Carpenter as the everyday first baseman?
Would that flexibility lead to the the same instability that lead to poor defense last season?
How well would Adams have to perform this Spring to force a proven veteran in Peralta, and Gyorko, who hit 30 home runs last year, from everyday playing time?
Another option, and maybe the majority opinion, would be a trade showcase. If Adams were to perform well, his trade value could definitely elevate. Would a hot Spring make Adams a greater trade chip, or Peralta more expendable? Peralta is in the final year of his contract. Adams still has two more years of arbitration. Both could be seen as benefits to a club in need, but arbitration years have become increasingly more valuable. The problem could be that Adams fits into the same category as several still available free agent bats. Teams may not be willing to trade commodities and sign a slugger short term.
These situations have a strange way of working out. Players will always get injured in the Spring. Depth in the lineup, and in the rotation, will always get tested before breaking camp. Some seasons more severe than others. Regardless, this Spring seems to be a very important for the svelte Matt Adams.