The St. Louis Cardinals are currently set to go into the 2017 season with Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez as their top outfield replacements. Martinez had a very nice cup of coffee with the big league team at the end of last season hitting .438 in 18 plate appearances. This is far too small of a sample size to get excited about though, and I don’t believe they should rely on him on the major league team when they break camp.
Tommy Pham poses another issue as the Cardinals 4th outfielder as he has been no stranger to injury over the course of his career. He hasn’t played more than 111 games in a season at any level since 2009. Pham is a nice player when healthy as he can play all three outfield positions and shows signs of being a very good hitter. But again, relying on a player who is so injury prone is typically a bad idea.
The Cardinals need more protection. They need to go out and sign one of the free agent outfielders that are available in free agency. There are plenty of options available so let’s take a quick look at some of them that I believe could sign somewhere as a 4th outfielder. In a recent interview with redbirddaily.com, John Mozeliak said the team is focused on adding another left-handed hitter so I chose to focus on lefties. This makes a lot of sense because Pham, Martinez, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty are all right-handed.
You may remember Blanco for making a ridiculous catch to preserve Matt Cain’s perfect game in 2012. He has served as a very useful player for the Giants over the past five seasons. Mostly viewed as a reserve player, Blanco found his way into plenty of playing time during his Giants tenure. He has been close to average at the plate for his career with a 96 wRC+. He is widely regarded as a very good defensive player that can play all three positions.
Fuld missed all of the 2016 season with a torn rotator cuff and will be unavailable for the beginning of this season. He isn’t a great hitter by any stretch, as he owns a career 79 wRC+. What Fuld does bring to the table though is great defense and base running which is exactly what John Mozeliak has said the team is looking to improve this offseason. While going into the season with Pham and Martinez isn’t ideal, Fuld makes a lot of sense and could be worth the wait.
This might not be a great fit because Saunders himself is very injury prone, and he also could potentially be offered a starting job for another team. What Saunders is, though, is a very good hitter. Injuries have plagued him for much of his career and he was limited to just 9 games in 2015 with the Blue Jays. However, he came back strong last season and was able to play 140 games while posting a 117 wRC+. He is not a great defender like Blanco or Fuld but what he can do at the plate could be a difference maker for the Cardinals if one of their outfielders were to get injured.
This may be a reach as well because Moss is likely to be offered more playing time elsewhere. If all he is being offered are one-year deals though, I do believe it’s possible that he would come back to St. Louis. Moss had his ups and downs while with the Cardinals. He mashed 28 home runs last season but ended the year with a 9 for 91 skid that really killed his value on the free agent market. Moss can always change the game with one swing of the bat though, and that could be a big asset coming off of the Cardinals bench in 2017.
Thanks for reading!