Inbox: Is Hosmer on Cardinals' wish list?

Beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers fans' questions

November 28th, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- After weeks of answering questions about , we're going to make this a Stanton-free Inbox. There are plenty of other needs the Cardinals plan to address and decisions that must be made before 2018. Let's take a look at some of those now:
What are the chances that the Cardinals will aggressively pursue free agent and a top tier reliever? It seems if they had another consistent bat with some power and a healthy top reliever in 2017, they would have made the playoffs.
-- Larry M., Barrington, Ill.

Your assessment is in line with that of the Cardinals, who hope to improve their roster by adding an impact bat and a closer this winter. That being said, the club doesn't seem to be as enamored by Hosmer as others are. Some of that could be due to reports that agent Scott Boras wants to land Hosmer a contract worth around $200 million. If that's the case, look for the Cardinals to continue their search elsewhere.
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One of the trickier things to determine when projecting Hosmer's future production is whether his 2017 season was an outlier. Hosmer set career highs in average (.318), on-base percentage (.385), slugging percentage (.498) and OPS (.882) after entering the year with a career slash line of .277/.335/.428.
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As far as the bullpen, yes, St. Louis continues to scour the trade and free-agent market for relievers. The Cards still need a closer and intend to add multiple relievers this offseason.
Do the Cards see a future for Patrick Wisdom at the Major League level? After hitting 31 homers and slugging over .500 in Triple-A last season, does he fit in any role?
-- Basil C., Clinton, Miss.

The Cardinals all but answered this question last week with their decision not to add Wisdom onto the 40-man roster. That means he'll be available (again) in next month's Rule 5 Draft. Given his career season last year, it seems likely another team will take a chance on Wisdom this time around.
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While the numbers were impressive, a few things continued to work against Wisdom in his efforts to climb the depth chart. One is his age. At 26 years old, Wisdom doesn't get the same leash as younger Minor League players. In this organization, he's also been blocked at the corner infield spots. Both factors played a role in the Cardinals' decision to protect other players ahead of Wisdom.

I'm still bummed that St. Louis couldn't work out a deal with . Since he likely won't pitch in 2018, why would any team sign him? And is it likely the Cards re-sign him?
-- Jeff H., Toledo, Ohio

If Rosenthal, who underwent Tommy John surgery in August, decides that he wants to sit out all of next season, he may go unsigned. If, however, he thinks he may be ready to return late in the season, a team may take a gamble and sign Rosenthal to a Minor League deal. This would also ensure that club retains Rosenthal's rights for 2019, when they could tender him a contract as an arbitration-eligible player.
The likeliest scenario is that Rosenthal holds out, continues with his recovery and then leverages his health into the best contract he can get next year -- either in-season or after the season. The Cardinals have not ruled out revisiting discussions with him when/if the time is right for both parties.
What do you see as Matt Carpenter's role in St. Louis in 2018? Is it possible that he could be moved over the offseason? If so, what would other teams be willing to give up for him?
-- Connor W., Marion, Ill.

Carpenter's fit will be determined by what other moves the Cardinals make in the coming months. If the Cardinals add another first baseman, look for Carpenter to shift to the other side of the diamond. If a third baseman joins the roster, Carpenter likely fits at first or second. His positional versatility gives the Cardinals flexibility in their search to add another bat.
And could he be dealt? The Cardinals don't consider anyone untouchable, so, yes, it's a possibility. Carpenter has two years (plus a club option) remaining on his contract, so that could be attractive to other clubs. I wouldn't expect the Cards to move Carpenter, however, unless they make a series of moves that significantly retool the offense.

If the Cardinals trade , who would be their backup catcher since no other catchers besides are on the 40-man roster?
-- Alan E., Beardstown, Ill.

The Cardinals would prefer not to deal Kelly, who is ranked by as baseball's second-best catching prospect. But as they try to address other areas of need through the trade market, it's expected that Kelly will be of interest to other clubs.
If the Cardinals were to trade him, they'd likely sign a backup catcher from the free-agent market. Given the load that Molina carries, the Cards would prioritize a defensively-minded catcher. Remember, they found their Opening Day backup last season by signing to a Minor League contract. It won't be that hard to find a filler for that final roster spot again this year.