Diving into the depths: St. Louis Cardinals

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
St. Louis Cardinals
Rotation
1. Adam Wainwright
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Kyle Lohse
4. Brad Penny
5. Mitchell Boggs
6. Jaime Garcia
7. Kyle McClellan
8. Lance Lynn
9. P.J. Walters
10. Adam Ottavino
The Cardinals still figure to go out and get a veteran fifth starter, and re-signing John Smoltz is one possibility. As is, Boggs should be the favorite for the role — he had a 4.10 ERA in his nine starts for St. Louis last season — but both Garcia and Lynn could be better bets as the year progresses.
Bullpen
1. Ryan Franklin
2. Kyle McClellan
3. Dennys Reyes
4. Trever Miller
5. Jason Motte
6. Blake Hawksworth
7. Josh Kinney
8. Ben Jukich
9. Mitchell Boggs
10. Matt Scherer
11. Tyler Norrick
Another right-handed reliever would also be nice, though that has to be a lower priority. Maybe Motte, who has been working on a curve, will step up this year and fill the eighth-inning role.
The Cardinals haven’t announced any minor league signings beyond Ruben Gotay. They’ve likely already added a few veteran relief-types capable of battling Hawksworth and Kinney for the final spot or two available.


Catcher
1. Yadier Molina
2. Jason LaRue
3. Matt Pagnozzi
4. Bryan Anderson
First base
1. Albert Pujols
2. Mark Hamilton
3. David Freese
4. Joe Mather
Second base
1. Skip Schumaker
2. Julio Lugo
3. Tyler Greene
4. Ruben Gotay
Third base
1. David Freese
2. Julio Lugo
3. Ruben Gotay
4. Tyler Greene
Shortstop
1. Brendan Ryan
2. Julio Lugo
3. Tyler Greene
Freese isn’t a lock for third base just yet, but the re-signing of Holliday, by using up most of the Cardinals’ available budget, dramatically improved his chances. I think he’ll hit, but his defense will probably be pretty spotty, and it might be for the best if the Cards had an experienced third baseman to play behind him. Melvin Mora would be the logical choice.
Left field
1. Matt Holliday
2. Allen Craig
3. Jon Jay
4. Joe Mather
5. Nick Stavinoha
6. Daryl Jones
Center field
1. Colby Rasmus
2. Shane Robinson
3. Skip Schumaker
4. Jon Jay
Right field
1. Ryan Ludwick
2. Nick Stavinoha
3. Joe Mather
4. Allen Craig
5. Jon Jay
The Cardinals have nine outfielders on their 40-man roster, yet they’re still probably going to add a veteran reserve before the start of the spring. Mather, Stavinoha and Robinson just aren’t that good, and all are candidates to be chopped from the roster when spots are needed. The Cards need a right-handed hitter capable of playing center — perhaps Randy Winn or Reed Johnson — and then maybe a left-handed bat as well (Gabe Gross? Frank Catalanotto?). As is, LaRue and Lugo are the only locks for their bench.

Jose Bautista: “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since famous bat flip

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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Arguably the most memorable moment of the 2015 season came in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers. The game was tied 3-3, but the Jays were threatening with runners on the corners and two outs. Jose Bautista launched a 1-1 Sam Dyson fastball for a no-doubt tie-breaking three-run home run that would send the Jays into the ALCS to face the eventual world champion Royals.

Bautista didn’t immediately run to first base after hitting the home run. He admired it, looked at Dyson, and then flipped his bat triumphantly. As far as bat flips go, it was a 10 out of 10. Yasiel Puig was proud.

The six-time All-Star admitted “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since that moment in the ALDS, as Jonah Birenbaum notes for The Score. Bautista also served as the assistant coach for musician Drake at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. As Drew noted earlier, Bautista had a pretty nice view at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as well.

The Jays are hopeful to sign Bautista, 35, to a multi-year extension. In six seasons since breaking out with the club in 2010, he has hit .268/.390/.555 with 227 home runs and 582 RBI in 3,604 plate appearances. No one has hit more home runs since the start of the 2010 season, as Miguel Cabrera is the closest at 199. And only Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, and Albert Pujols have driven in more runs in that span of time. It’s easy to see why, despite his age, the Jays want to keep Bautista around a little while longer.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

Screenshot 2016-02-14 at 12.27.52 PM
Norm Hall/Getty Images North America
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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.