ST. LOUIS -- The task of enhancing a roster that won 88 games without a postseason berth began in earnest on Wednesday, when the Cardinals secured a much-needed, middle-of-the-order bat with the acquisition of D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Cardinals, who introduced Goldschmidt during a press conference on Friday,
ST. LOUIS -- The task of enhancing a roster that won 88 games without a postseason berth began in earnest on Wednesday, when the Cardinals secured a much-needed, middle-of-the-order bat with the acquisition of D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Cardinals, who introduced Goldschmidt during a press conference on Friday, completed the deal by sending Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Andy Young and a compensatory Draft pick to Arizona.
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Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star, instantly improves an offense that ranked fifth in the National League with 759 runs scored in 2018 and ticks off the top item on the Cardinals' winter to-do list. It also leads to a natural follow-up: So what's up next?
With the club committing $15.5 million for one year of Goldschmidt, the Cardinals still enjoy the sort of financial flexibility that would allow them to be bold in free agency. Potential pursuits vary, but they're not likely to include a strong play for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The Cards will stay on the periphery of those markets, which will likely begin to crystallize during the upcoming Winter Meetings.
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As it currently stands, the Cardinals are prepared to enter the season with William Fowler as their starting right fielder. Jose Martinez and Tyler O'Neill will provide additional depth at the position.
Instead of hunting for another middle-of-the-order bat, the Cardinals will turn their attention to three other defined pursuits. The club wants to add a left-handed-hitting utility player, augment the back end of its bullpen and find a backup catcher.
"We still have about two months before Spring Training, three months before Opening Day," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "We're going to take our time. We're going to be diligent on what we think can help us get better."
With a bench that currently projects to be all right-handed-hitting, the Cards do understand the necessity of creating better balance. That will likely come at the expense of someone already on the 40-man roster, as the Cards don't have room to keep Jedd Gyorko, Yairo Munoz, O'Neill and Martinez all as right-handed-hitting backups.
"We've done that exercise, and that's why I'm not committing to anything today," Mozeliak said. "I do feel like there's still some things that have to happen."
The most likely of those is dealing Martinez, who best profiles as a designated hitter for an American League club.
Mozeliak did add that it's "highly probable" the team's Opening Day starting position players are already in the fold.
And so the biggest need now becomes the bullpen, where the Cardinals have several undefined roles, and no closer. The importance of adding reliable left-handed relief remains a high priority, even with Chasen Shreve and Brett Cecil returning. The club hasn't ruled out adding a proven closer, though St. Louis is also open to letting that fit develop organically through the addition of back-end depth.
"We're looking for a good fit and a good opportunity; whether that's a big lift or a small lift will sort of depend on what the market bears," general manager Michael Girsch said. "We have some ability to evaluate all the options because we're not limited in such a way that we can't look at the free-agent market, but that doesn't mean we'll just go find ways to spend money."
If the Cardinals choose not to deploy their payroll muscle to target relievers in the deep end of the free-agent market, they could pursue less costly options or use their roster redundancy to execute a trade.
The departure of Kelly also necessitates the addition of another catcher. Kelly had been earmarked to serve as a backup to Yadier Molina next season. A reunion with Molina's most recent backup, Francisco Pena, has not been ruled out.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.