The St. Louis Cardinals boast the best development system in all of baseball. Yet, the Cardinals have been hampered with a nagging thorn in their side at the shortstop position since the days of Edgar Renteria.
Renteria patrolled the Cardinals middle infield from 1998-2004. Since then, the organization has had little luck in finding a cornerstone shortstop. The likes of David Eckstein, Cesar Izturis, Brendan Ryan, Rafael Furcal, Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso were decent fill-ins, but nothing to write home about.
Landing a shortstop this offseason tops the to-do list for general manager John Mozeliak.
Here are two ideal solutions for solving the Cardinals’ need for a shortstop.
Make a Trade
This appears to be the most logical option for Mozeliak. He has an abundance of young pitching, which is the most sought-after commodity in the game.
Jed Lowrie is one player that should spark the Cardinals interest. The Oakland Athletics just signed Nick Punto to a one-year, $3 million deal with a vesting option that could add up to an additional $2.75 million, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
With Punto signed, it would make sense for Oakland to shop Lowrie. The 29-year-old Lowrie would give the Cardinals lineup considerable pop either at the top or bottom. Lowrie smashed 15 home runs and drove in 75 RBI last season in 154 games played.
Sign Stephen Drew
Stephen Drew, who will turn 31 before spring training, is represented by Scott Boras—the toughest agent in the game. Boras will try to squeeze every last dime out of whichever team ultimately lands his client.
Boston offered Drew a $14.1 million qualifying offer. As expected, however, Drew declined the offer.
According to Ricky Doyle of NESN.com, Drew is looking for a multiyear deal that could turn into a more appealing contract elsewhere.
Money is not a problem for the Cardinals. They have plenty of green to throw at Drew if they so desire.
According to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals will benefit from $25 million in national-TV dollars in 2014.
Why not cash in on Drew?
Drew hit .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBI for the Red Sox last season. Though he struggled during the postseason, especially the World Series, the younger brother of former Cardinals' outfielder J.D. Drew would be a good fit for the Cardinals.
Drew provides power and has the uncanny ability to spray get extra-base hits.
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch believes Drew makes the most sense for the Cardinals.
“He’s a reliable glove, who did play some outstanding defense late for the Red Sox,” Goold wrote during a recent live chat. “He’s not a HR hitter, but he has the pop for extra bases, and is probably good for another if not several strong offensive seasons.
“He fits the ethos of the Cardinals and has that familiarity with the organization that the Cardinals seem to value so much. And here’s the best part: He won’t cost a prospect. Just money and a draft pick, a draft pick that the Cardinals will get back when [Carlos] Beltran signs elsewhere.”
The above represent two of many options the Cardinals could pursue. If the Cardinals are able to trade for Lowrie or sign Drew, both their offense and defense would be upgraded tremendously.