LAS VEGAS -- While the Cardinals seem unlikely to leave Las Vegas with any seismic shakeup to their 40-man roster, the club continues to consider ways in which it could leverage its most consistent offensive performer from last year into a way to address other needs.The Cardinals have spent the
LAS VEGAS -- While the Cardinals seem unlikely to leave Las Vegas with any seismic shakeup to their 40-man roster, the club continues to consider ways in which it could leverage its most consistent offensive performer from last year into a way to address other needs.
The Cardinals have spent the week entertaining inquiries about Jose Martinez and are prepared to deal him before next season begins. It may seem a puzzling stance given that Martinez slashed .305/.364/.457 while starting the third-most number of games for the team last season.
But the motivation behind the Cardinals' intent to trade Martinez is two-fold: They don't have a fit for him and he has value to others.
With four years of team control remaining and a career .850 OPS since breaking through to the Majors in 2016, Martinez, unsurprisingly, has drawn widespread interest. He'd fit best in the American League, where Martinez could slot in as a designated hitter. But the Cardinals have also fielded inquiries from National League clubs.
"That's the kind of guy who has a big market," general manager Michael Girsch said. "Guys who hit .300 and make good contact, they are valuable players."
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Martinez would seemingly be valuable to the Cardinals, too. Despite doubling down on their commitment to start William Fowler in right field, the team can't guarantee that Fowler will have the bounce-back season they need. And even if Fowler would rebound, Martinez would be a desirable weapon off the bench.
But the Cardinals have weighed the benefits of keeping Martinez as insurance with the opportunity to trade him for someone they need more. He remains one of the ways through which the Cardinals are considering finding help for the back end of the bullpen.
"We've explored every possible iteration," Girsch noted. "Sure, that's a possibility."
Subtracting Martinez from the roster would also provide the Cardinals the opening they need to include a left-handed bat on their bench.
Nevertheless, completing a trade involving Martinez, who is currently hitting .328/.435/.483 in the Venezuelan Winter League, did not seem imminent as members of the Cardinals' front office gathered Wednesday evening to caravan over to Fowler's home for dinner.
And not all of their time in Las Vegas was monopolized by trying to figure out how best to leverage the outfielder/first baseman. The front office also engaged with agents representing free-agent relievers, catchers and left-handed-hitting utility players.
"We're just gaining information," Girsch said. "We're making progress. But again, it's incremental until the last phone call that makes it happen."
Boras on Bryce
Perched in front of a Christmas tree at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, agent Scott Boras held his annual meeting with the media on Wednesday. And it's no surprise that his most prominent free-agent client -- Bryce Harper -- dominated the conversation.
Boras offered no hint as to how soon Harper may choose his next destination, but he described Harper's desire to find a team committed to sustained success and championship pursuits. When asked if St. Louis is a market big enough to handle the contractual demands for a player like Harper, Boras pointed out how the Cardinals are "worth billions of dollars [as] a top-10 revenue team."
"There's not one bird on their chest," he added. "There's two birds. They sit on the big bank of St. Louis."
The Cardinals' public response to Boras' comments was muted.
"I'm not sure getting in a debate with Scott Boras via the media is an ideal approach to this," Girsch said. "We have a budget that we stick to as best we can that we adjust when opportunities present themselves. That's all I have to say."
The Cardinals have engaged in discussions with Boras this offseason because he represents several players in which the team has interest.
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.