The St. Louis Cardinals are relishing in opportunities, and are now spoiled with options – and a former All-Star named Jhonny Peralta need not apply.
Yes, the man who started at third base and hit clean up to start the season is due any day to return to the big league club in St. Louis – but much more is at stake when Peralta dons the “Birds on the Bat” again.
Do we actually need or even want him to?
St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak surely isn’t losing sleep over the decision, but it has to be on his mind – as Peralta is seemingly getting healthier and returning to some form of serviceable ball player again.
FYI – Peralta had his best game in his rehab stint last night, going 2-4 with an RBI down at AAA Memphis.
At what level, and for who, is just the question.
Sure many people have their opinion about what to do with Jhonny Peralta, but just really what are the logical (and non-logical) options?
We’ve got you covered here at the RedBird Daily.
1. Release Jhonny Peralta
This seems to be the most popular option among those who have a pulse – but it is a little more complicated than that, as some money is involved.
About 10 million monies to be exact.
The Cardinals are on the latter end of a 4-year, $53 million dollar deal, and it has looked like a poop shoot of a deal, especially when you compare it to the fact Jedd Gyorko is making $4 million dollars, playing the same position and absolutely mashing.
If Mozeliak does indeed release Peralta, it’s basically like throwing a bucket of $10 million dollars out of the window, and saying that the bucket is basically worthless and anyone can have it.
A million dollars is one thing in professional sports. Mozeliak pisses that when he rolls out of bed in the morning.
Ten-million? That’s another.
Peralta could then turn around and sign with another team, and the Cardinals would STILL have to pay the man.
So is it worth the risk to release him, and potentially see him go play (unlikely) well for another team?
Think of it this way – would you throw ten million dollars to 30 other people and let them play with it, just because you don’t really need it?
Because that is what Mo’ is thinking right now.
2. Swamp Jhonny Peralta
This one might be incredibly tricky – especially because he would probably have to play for St. Louis again and show some more value to attract any real suitors.
He has been nothing but awful in his Major League time this year – hitting below .200, showing limited mobility, and just overall signs of aging.
With that said, he was put on the “disabled list,” after reports of respiratory infection, or what we in the biz like to call the “Phantom DL.”
(also known as “we don’t know what the hell to do with you”)
So who could really WANT that right now? Well, surprisingly, there might be a few teams who would pull the trigger if he could at least hit .250, and where he could provide at least a bridge for a prospect or for a team looking to dump a bigger contract in favor of Peralta’s (more on this in a second).
Take a look at the bottom 10 in batting average right now for third basemen in the Major Leagues.
Now not ALL of these teams will bite, but three teams I do want you take a look at are the Phillies, the Rangers, and yes, the Tampa Bay Rays.
…seemingly likes Maikel Franco, and he has shown flashes of a young player that could be good with his bat and speed, but third base isn’t a good fit for him (one of the worst fielding percentages in the league), and they need help in other places. Peralta could fill in most nights, and Franco could still play there every now and then, while the Phillies enjoy a veteran presence in the clubhouse for a cheap buck.
The return – the Cardinals would still eat most of the salary here, just not the whole piece, and would probably get a low level minor leaguer in return.
…also presents an intriguing opportunity for two reasons: 1) Peralta would not have to play the field everyday (DH rule applies here and the Rangers would see that as a benefit for an older player) 2) Joey Gallo could move around to a more natural position (also one of the weaker defenders at third in the ML)
The return – Texas might be willing to take on either more of Peralta’s 10 million dollar chunk, or be willing to part ways with a more pro-ready prospect. I’m willing to bet the former, as they are a team that has always shown the willingness to risk it to “win now” rather than “win later,” which is why they’d trade for a veteran bat in the first place.
…presents the most intriguing and probably unrealistic option on the board – but if you’ve read anything I have written for this blog, you know that I love words like intriguing and unrealistic.
Look, I know Evan Longoria is the Tampa Bay Rays’ starting third basemen, is owed more money than Peralta, and we would have to give up more than ol’ JP to get him, but if you have to shoot, why not shoot for the moon?
Tampa Bay dumps Longoria’s remaining five years on his 10-year, $136.5 million dollar contract, which is actually incredibly team friendly with a team option for $13 million plus incentives in 2023, when he will be 37, or he can be bought out in that final year for $5 million, and the Cardinals assume minimal risk for a player that will probably hit around .275, 20 home runs. and play Gold Glove caliber defense for his entire career.
Hell, I’ll take that any day of the week, and I would bet Longoria would LOVE to compete for a World Series ring too.
Package Peralta, Harrison Bader and Sandy Alcantara and ask the Rays to dump their long-tenured third basemen.
The Rays would get a projectable center fielder, a future fire baller, and pay less money to a veteran third basemen.
God knows they aren’t TRULY contending anytime soon, right?
3. Harvest Jhonny Peralta
This might be the most likely of scenarios, as John Mozeliak is in a surprisingly good situation right now.
Why is that? Two words.
Jedd “Look Mom No Hands” Gyorko is arguably the St. Louis Cardinals best offensive player right now, and if you had to pick, he would be their All-Star selection.
His average is second in the National League amongst third basemen, meaning the Cardinals don’t really need a new third basemen, or an old third basemen (Peralta) to come meddling things up.
They’re in first place, the defense has actually gotten BETTER (yikes), and this club is trending up.
So what do you do when things ain’t broke?
DON’T FIX IT.
John Mozeliak could in theory just extend Peralta’s minor league rehab assignment into a full on Holliday Inn extended stay, complete with pool service, a microwave and his own crappy motel room.
All with the clear (unspoken) message of this – “you earn your way back onto the club, or onto another one.”
All three options are viable…
But the timing is getting tight, as Peralta looks ready to do something – whether that be for the parent club, another team, or a longer stint in the minors, only time will tell.
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading.
For more stories I write during staffing meetings, things I do on the 22nd floor of the John Hancock Building and using the word “aint” follow me @TonOfClayton