Inbox: What options do the Cards have in LF?

Beat reporter Anne Rogers answers questions from fans

November 15th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals used this week’s GM Meetings to gather information about what their offseason might look like. Unlike other years, the front office doesn’t have a clear target this winter, so it’s still laying the groundwork for what might come.

What they do know is that will be back in the rotation after signing a one-year deal for 2020, and left field is open after rejected the Cardinals’ one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer.

So with the offseason heating up -- or, at least, warming up -- let’s get to some questions for this week’s Inbox.

Who do you think will get the most at-bats in left field next year?
--Curt, Las Vegas

My prediction right now is that one of the Cardinals young outfielders will emerge in Spring Training as a viable, everyday left fielder and carry the bat that the Cardinals need. was impressive both offensively and defensively when he got the opportunity and before his wrist fracture caused him to miss all of September. While he played mostly center field, he also has some experience in left. He has pop in his bat (four home runs in 38 Major League at-bats this year) and speed on the bases. If he has a good spring, he could emerge as the leading candidate.

needs to stay healthy, but he would be my other leading candidate. Top prospect can play all three outfield spots, and he will also get a chance in Spring Training. Whether he debuts on Opening Day -- and in what outfield spot -- remains to be seen.

It is worth noting that the outfield free-agent market is thin, with Ozuna and leading the way. That means that more outfield trades could happen, the Cardinals add a proven outfielder and my prediction is completely debunked. The Cardinals have drawn interest about their abundance of outfielders since the Trade Deadline in July, so a trade for an outfielder who can fill the left field void, while also upgrading the offense, should not be ruled out. Neither should Ozuna’s return. His preference is to stay with the Cardinals, and the front office has talked with Ozuna’s agent, Melvin Roman, about a deal. But Ozuna is seeking a multiyear deal, and the Cardinals might not be ready to commit to that.

Does have a future with the Cards? It looks like he might have fallen behind quite a few of the other young outfielders.
--Scott, Indianapolis

García is one of those prospects that the Cardinals hope to have competing in Spring Training for a starting spot. He did not get a callup in 2019, which is why he might not be talked about as much as some of the other prospects, but he should be in the conversation.

The 26-year-old Cuban hit a team-leading 32 home runs with Triple-A Memphis in 2019. His slash line was .253/.301/.517 in 132 games. He spent 73 games in right field and 34 in center, and he’s also played left field some -- including when he was called up in 2018.

Along with Thomas, O’Neill, Carlson and García, and are also part of that outfield group that is expected to compete for a spot in 2020.

Lots of questions about outfielder this week (and every week). The Red Sox are reportedly looking for ways to reduce their payroll, and one option would be to trade Betts, although they have not said whether he’ll be available to trade. While the Cardinals have a clear need for an outfielder of his caliber, the return for a trade like this would be very high. Remember, too, that the Cardinals weren’t ready to move any Major League players or top prospects (Carlson and third baseman ) at the Trade Deadline this year.

still has value in St. Louis, especially if he stays healthy and returns to the rotation next year. He’s shown he can be effective in the bullpen. This makes him an attractive piece for any team, and the Cardinals will listen and explore offers for the right-hander. But I’m not sure the Cardinals would like to move him, likely another Major League player and prospects in a mega-trade for Betts.

What work will be done with hitting this offseason?

Manager Mike Shildt and his staff met this week at the Cardinals’ complex in Jupiter, Fla., to review 2019 and start prepping for '20. If you think back to last year, this was where the Cardinals’ goal of improving the defense took shape. The coaches put some individual plans in place, and the players executed them.

Part of these meetings was finding ways to improve the offense. The Cardinals are hoping that this comes from within the organization, and they have confidence in players to make that happen. They also feel that hitting coach Jeff Albert’s second year with the team will see more results.

Edman’s role will largely depend on what the Cardinals do this offseason, but I see him more in the infield than the outfield, especially if the Cardinals want to clear the way for their prospects to take over the outfield. Edman will get plenty of playing time, and it will be wherever he’s needed that day.

How and when can I get tickets for the London Series against the Cubs?
--Harold, Germany

The Cardinals will play the Cubs June 13-14, 2020, in the London Series. Presale tickets go on sale Thursday, which you can find here. The seating chart was recently released, and it looks like the stadium will have a reduction in foul-ball territory from last year’s series between the Red Sox and Yankees.