Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the St. Louis Cardinals
news

Cardinals News

Cardinals searching for impact bat in offseason

St. Louis may break tradition of avoiding high-price free agents
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- The need is as it was a year ago for the Cardinals, who again set out on an offseason search for an impact bat. The route toward that end, however, will likely take a different course, and the Cardinals will approach it by reevaluating the organizational blueprint that had, for so long, reaped sustained success and been the envy of so many.

Three years spent watching the playoffs affords time for such reflection. Some would even call it necessary.

ST. LOUIS -- The need is as it was a year ago for the Cardinals, who again set out on an offseason search for an impact bat. The route toward that end, however, will likely take a different course, and the Cardinals will approach it by reevaluating the organizational blueprint that had, for so long, reaped sustained success and been the envy of so many.

Three years spent watching the playoffs affords time for such reflection. Some would even call it necessary.

"Eighty-eight wins was not good enough," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said on Tuesday as he addressed myriad topics in an hour-long question-and-answer session with local media. "You've heard [principal owner] Mr. [Bill] DeWitt [Jr.] speak. He's not happy with where we are. He wants us to be better. He wants us back in the postseason, and I understand it. I hear it. And we'll try to look at ways to do that.

"As I look at the next few months, I certainly understand there's a lot of work to be done."

The call for more offense is a familiar one, as it was the team's primary objective last offseason. They sought to solve it through their pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton, until he invoked his no-trade clause. The Cardinals later pivoted and made a deal for another Marlins outfielder, Marcell Ozuna.

Ozuna's impact was noticeable, but not necessarily dynamic. A club that finished tied for fourth in the National League in runs per game (4.69) and home runs per game (1.27) was also inconsistent in that production. And so they will once again seek more.

Last year, the Cardinals, with a crowded roster and repetitive assets, chose to address the need via trade. Circumstances are different now. Significant financial flexibility and a free-agent market fertile with middle-of-the-order bats will push the organization to look hard in that direction.

The question that looms over them then becomes: How big will they go?

"We understand that there is opportunity in this market, and we have to be open-minded to see where that takes us," Mozeliak said. "We have a collection of really good players, but you've got to find a way to improve upon that. … And maybe the way to answer your question is we may have to take some risk."

This market offers two, in particular. Atop the list of available free-agent bats are shortstop Manny Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper. Both hit the open market at 26 years old and are expected to seek record-setting free-agent deals.

Financially, the Cardinals have the ability to enter the bidding. Their pursuit of Stanton a year ago proved the club is unafraid of taking on a long and costly contract for the right player.

And positionally, there could be a fit for either give the uncertainty the Cardinals have in right field and at third base. Fitting an impact bat into one of those two spots would be ideal. The club's need to better balance their offense by adding a left-handed hitter makes Harper particularly attractive.

The calculus, as it always is with these sorts of contract expectations, remains complex.

"When you talk about key names, these aren't one-year solutions," Mozeliak noted. "These are sort of long-term bets. I feel like a lot of times when you have these types of roundtables where we're talking, everybody is solely focused on next season and how that's going to impact the organization. But a lot of these types of opportunities are seven, eight, nine, 10 years down the road. That's something that, when you sit in my seat, you have to be pragmatic and understand what that might look like."

But perhaps that's what makes these two players especially intriguing fits. At their ages, the deals they sign will carry them through what should be prime years of production.

Mozeliak: Ankiel 'very much committed' to return

Still, under DeWitt's ownership, the organization's preference has been to draft and develop its own cornerstone pieces. The Cards continue to churn out high-level pitching talent, but they haven't been so effective in producing elite position players. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina were the most recent two, and they were both drafted nearly two decades ago.

Some of that is a consequence of being handcuffed by success. The Cardinals have picked higher than 18th overall in the MLB Draft just once (13th in 2008) since '98.

For most of this past decade, they've overcome that gap. Now, the Cardinals are reevaluating how to address it. That includes whether they can get back to competing for World Championships without a superstar.

"Well, we've won consistently since Albert left," Mozeliak said, referring to the run of postseason appearances the team made from 2012-15. "Now, have we won the big prize? No. Have we come close? Yes. Do I agree that we need some level of elite talent to compete at the highest level? Yeah, I'd accept that.

"Finding that type of franchise player or face of the franchise is something that we recognize we haven't had since Albert left. Yet, we still manage to win. It's a different way of building a club when you don't have it, and I do think it's a little harder."

And so that brings the Cardinals to this crossroads, one where they must decide if it's time to go in that direction they've long preferred to avoid. Wading into the deep end of the free-agent market would represent a high-risk, high-reward gamble. And being successful in such pursuits also will require convincing the player to chose St. Louis, something the club couldn't do with Jason Heyward, David Price or Stanton.

For now, all avenues that lead toward improvement remain on the table.

"Sometimes you need to force yourself to rethink or maybe zig and zag when you don't want to," Mozeliak said. "We try not to get into a position where we get into that comfort zone of that steady state."

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.

St. Louis Cardinals

Mozeliak: Ankiel 'very much committed' to return

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- While the Cardinals practice a policy of not commenting about potential interest in free agents, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made an exception Tuesday. It had to do with Rick Ankiel.

Back in August, after pitching against other former big leaguers in an exhibition game, Ankiel announced that he planned to pursue one final comeback attempt at the age of 39. It was an unexpected pronouncement from the converted outfielder, who hadn't pitched in the Majors since 2004. He retired in 2013 and currently serves on the Cardinals' broadcast team.

ST. LOUIS -- While the Cardinals practice a policy of not commenting about potential interest in free agents, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made an exception Tuesday. It had to do with Rick Ankiel.

Back in August, after pitching against other former big leaguers in an exhibition game, Ankiel announced that he planned to pursue one final comeback attempt at the age of 39. It was an unexpected pronouncement from the converted outfielder, who hadn't pitched in the Majors since 2004. He retired in 2013 and currently serves on the Cardinals' broadcast team.

Mozeliak confirmed that he "had a nice discussion" with Ankiel a few weeks ago about the left-hander's future plans. The two plan to touch base again this winter.

"I understand his sincerity and seriousness of this," Mozeliak said. "It is something that he's going to put 100 percent effort in, and I think he's very much committed to trying."

Ankiel famously developed the yips during the postseason in 2000, the same year he finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. He made six appearances the following season and five more in '04 before becoming a position player. Ankiel went on to play seven more seasons in the Majors and remained with the Cardinals through 2009.

Reyes recovery update

Alex Reyes will soon transfer his rehab work from St. Louis to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the Cardinals hope a change of scenery can keep the top prospect energized as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.

"He's been so intimately engaged with the Cardinals medical staff that I think we need to give him a break," Mozeliak said. "It's maybe not something that all of you see in a day-in, day-out basis, but I think he's sick of looking at the nurse. You know what I mean? So it's time for a change."

By moving his workouts to south Florida, Reyes will remain close to the Cardinals' complex in Jupiter.

Mozeliak said the organization expects Reyes to begin a throwing program in about six or seven weeks. The Cardinals plan to take a "very patient approach" with Reyes in Spring Training, but anticipate that he'll be healthy for the start of the regular season. He'll prepare as a starting pitcher, even though Reyes has thrown only 73 pitches in the Majors since 2016.

Video: STL@MIL: Reyes makes MLB return, throws 4 scoreless

Reyes missed the 2017 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and then suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him following his season debut in May.

"Right now, I would say the organization is pretty excited about where he's at and also pretty optimistic about where he's at," Mozeliak added.

Worth noting

• Mozeliak confirmed that no one on the club's 40-man roster underwent any sort of surgical procedure following the conclusion of the regular season. Nor, he added, are any upcoming surgeries expected.

• Left fielder Marcell Ozuna is scheduled for a follow-up visit with orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache later this month. It was during a meeting with ElAttrache in August that Ozuna decided to receive a cortisone injection in his ailing right shoulder. As it is, the Cardinals believe Ozuna can address the shoulder injury through physical therapy this winter.

• Though the Cardinals were among those present at Trevor Rosenthal's recent workout in California, Mozeliak would not speculate about a potential reunion with the club's former closer.

Rosenthal sat out the 2018 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was released by the Cardinals last offseason, and thus, is available as a free agent. Rosenthal, who collected 121 saves over six seasons with the Cardinals, has been rehabbing primarily in St. Louis.

• Former Cardinals reliever Ryan Sherriff announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has signed a Minor League contract with the Rays. Sherriff was released by the Cardinals in August after undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. He appeared in five games for the Cardinals in 2018.

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.

St. Louis Cardinals

Key 2018-19 free agents for all 30 MLB teams

MLB.com

An impressive collection of talent will hit the open market when free agency gets underway this offseason, and players are eligible to sign with a new team five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Here is a division-by-division breakdown of the key free agents for all 30 Major League clubs.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

An impressive collection of talent will hit the open market when free agency gets underway this offseason, and players are eligible to sign with a new team five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Here is a division-by-division breakdown of the key free agents for all 30 Major League clubs.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Atlanta Braves
Key free agents: RHP Brad Brach, 1B Lucas Duda, 3B Ryan Flaherty, OF Nick Markakis, C Rene Rivera, RHP Anibal Sanchez, C Kurt Suzuki, LHP Jonny Venters

Markakis was a valuable member of a youthful Braves club in 2018, providing veteran leadership and making the All-Star team for the first time in his career. Atlanta has a stellar farm system that is loaded with pitching prospects, which is one of the reasons why Sanchez is unlikely to be back after his impressive rebound campaign. But without an obvious replacement for Markakis in right field, the door remains open for the soon-to-be 35-year-old to return. Suzuki has formed a productive catching tandem with Tyler Flowers over the past two seasons, but the 35-year-old may be too expensive to bring back for a part-time role.

Miami Marlins
Key free agents: None

The Marlins' roster is replete with players who are at the early stages of their big league careers, putting them years away from free agency. After trading multiple big-name players last offseason, Miami will likely now look to deal veterans Starlin Castro and Martin Prado, as they are owed nearly $27 million combined in 2019.

New York Mets
Key free agents: LHP Jerry Blevins, OF Austin Jackson, C Devin Mesoraco, RHP AJ Ramos, INF Jose Reyes

There's a chance the Mets won't bring back any of these players after they combined for -1.7 Wins Above Replacement in 2018, per FanGraphs. With Travis d'Arnaud, T.J. Rivera and Juan Lagares returning from injuries, the Mets have obvious replacements for Mesoraco, Reyes and Jackson next year. Blevins is more likely to be back than Ramos, whose recovery from right shoulder surgery is expected to extend into next June and possibly longer.

Philadelphia Phillies
Key free agents: 3B/OF Jose Bautista, INF Asdrubal Cabrera, LHP Aaron Loup, C Wilson Ramos

All four players on Philadelphia's list were acquired late in the 2018 campaign as the Phillies made a playoff push that ultimately fell short. Instead of bringing back Ramos, who is sure to fetch a sizable multi-year deal, the Phils may give 25-year-old Jorge Alfaro another chance to show he can handle starting duties behind the plate. Cabrera could be a fallback option if the Phillies are unable to land Manny Machado in free agency.

Washington Nationals
Key free agents: OF Bryce Harper, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Kelvin Herrera, RHP Greg Holland, 1B Mark Reynolds, C Matt Wieters

Harper will be one of the top free agents available this offseason, and the Nats will likely make a major push to keep him in Washington. The club might also be interested in bringing back Holland and Hellickson, but the two righties are sure to draw interest from other clubs after boosting their value with the Nats. Washington is expected to try to upgrade at the catcher spot, which could leave Wieters looking for a new home.

NL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs
Key free agents: RHP Jesse Chavez, LHP Jorge De La Rosa, LHP Jaime Garcia (club option), LHP Cole Hamels (club option), OF Jason Heyward (can opt out of his contract), RHP Brandon Kintzler (club and player options), 2B Daniel Murphy, RHP Pedro Strop (club option), LHP Justin Wilson

The Cubs have many decisions to make this offseason, most notably regarding the $20 million club option for Hamels, who was acquired from the Rangers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline and recorded a terrific 2.36 ERA over 12 starts. They also have a bevy of bullpen arms that are set to depart or have club options. The Cubs could try to retain Chavez and Strop, and Murphy could also be back (particularly given Addison Russell's suspension), as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke highly of the second baseman's contributions after his acquisition from the Nationals.

Cincinnati Reds
Key free agents: RHP Matt Harvey

Cincinnati elected to keep Harvey at the non-waiver Trade Deadline instead of flipping him to a contender, and now face a decision about the right-hander, given that he has expressed openness to returning and the Reds will be seeking starting pitching depth this offseason. Outside of Harvey, the Reds don't have any key departures or options to worry about this winter, though Scooter Gennett and Billy Hamilton are due for free agency following the 2019 season.

Milwaukee Brewers
Key free agents: LHP Gio Gonzalez, OF Curtis Granderson, RHP Jeremy Jeffress (club option), LHP Dan Jennings, C Erik Kratz, RHPJordan Lyles (club option), LHP Wade Miley, 3B Mike Moustakas (mutual option), IF Eric Sogard, RHP Joakim Soria (club option)

The Brewers have most of their pitching depth locked up beyond this season, with Gonzalez, an in-season acquisition, and Miley, who was initially signed to a Minor League contract before the season, the only two starters set for free agency this offseason. Soria, a key piece of the Brewers' bullpen in their playoff run, has a $10 million team option for 2019, while closing option Jeffress has a much cheaper $3.175 million team option. The 38-year-old Kratz and 37-year-old Granderson are also bound for free agency. Given their security all over the roster, the Brewers are set to contend again in 2019 even if they don't make a big offseason splash.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Key free agents: IF/OF Josh Harrison (club option), IF Jung Ho Kang (club option), SS Jordy Mercer

After making a splash by trading for Chris Archer in 2018, the Pirates appear to be mostly set with their pitching staff but will be looking for a bat in the offseason, likely at shortstop, especially if they don't end up bringing Kang back after his late-season cameo. Even if they don't make a Manny Machado-sized splash at shortstop, the market is deep this offseason, with Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis and Adeiny Hechavarria among the names that will be in play. It seems unlikely that the Pirates will pick up Harrison's $10.5 million option.

St. Louis Cardinals
Key free agents: 1B Matt Adams, RHP Bud Norris, C Francisco Pena, RHP Tyson Ross

Adam Wainwright already avoided free agency by agreeing to a one-year deal to return for his 15th season with the Cardinals. Improving the bullpen to build around Jordan Hicks will be a priority for the Cardinals, especially with the departure of Norris, who provided stability at closer for much of the season. Though Adams likely won't be on the Cardinals' radar again, St. Louis is thought to be looking for an impact left-handed hitter, with needs at outfield and third base.

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks
Key free agents: RHP Clay Buchholz, LHP Patrick Corbin, RHP Randall Delgado, 2B Daniel Descalso, LHP Jake Diekman, 3B Eduardo Escobar, 1B Paul Goldschmidt (club option), OF Jon Jay, C Jeff Mathis, OF A.J. Pollock, C Chris Stewart, OF Yasmany Tomas (player option)

The D-backs could lose two key contributors this winter, with Corbin and Pollock likely to exceed Arizona's price range, but Buchholz, Descalso and Mathis are strong candidates to return. Neither Goldschmidt nor Tomas is expected to hit the open market. The D-backs are sure to pick up Goldschmidt's $14.5 million club option for 2019, and Tomas will undoubtedly exercise his player options for '19-20, valued at $15.5 million next year and $17 million in '20, after spending all of '18 in the Minors.

Colorado Rockies
Key free agents: C Drew Butera, OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Matt Holliday, 2B DJ LeMahieu, RHP Seunghwan Oh (club option), RHP Adam Ottavino, OF Gerardo Parra

The Rockies will have to decide whether they want to compete for LeMahieu this winter or if they're ready to turn the reins at second base over to one of their middle-infield prospects, Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers. They also face decisions in the outfield, where Gonzalez, Parra and Holliday are impending free agents, and in the bullpen with Ottavino and Oh, who has a $2.5 million option for 2019 with a $250,000 buyout.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Key free agents: RHP John Axford, 2B Brian Dozier, C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Daniel Hudson, LHP Clayton Kershaw (opt out), SS Manny Machado, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu

Machado is among the headliners in this year's star-studded free agent class, and longtime Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could add his name to the mix if he opts out of his contract. The Dodgers will try to retain Machado, whom they acquired from the Orioles at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they'll have stiff competition as he's likely to cash in for a big payday. The oft-injured Ryu posted a 1.97 ERA through 15 regular season starts in 2018 and pitched well in the playoffs to improve his stock heading into free agency.

San Diego Padres
Key free agents: C A.J. Ellis, SS Freddy Galvis

The Padres' 2018 roster will remain mostly intact with only Galvis and Ellis entering free agency, and both are candidates to return. Ellis is less likely to be re-signed, however, with young catchers Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia in the mix. San Diego may also let Galvis walk if he wants a multi-year deal, with Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego's No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline) nearing big league readiness and Luis Urias (San Diego's No. 4 prospect) likely to take over as the club's starting second baseman in 2019.

San Francisco Giants
Key free agents: OF Gregor Blanco, RHP Madison Bumgarner (club option), LHP Derek Holland, C Nick Hundley, RHP Mark Melancon (can opt out of his contract), OF Hunter Pence, 3B Pablo Sandoval

The Giants are expected to pick up Bumgarner's $12 million option, and Melancon is almost certainly staying put for the final two years of his four-year, $62 million deal, but the club will likely part ways with veterans Pence and Blanco. The Giants may try bring back Holland, who enjoyed a bounceback campaign and anchored an injury-riddled Giants rotation in 2018, and Hundley, who capably backed up Buster Posey.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Baltimore Orioles
Key free agents: OF Adam Jones

The O's list has just one man on it, as they traded nearly every player on an expiring contract, including Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Brad Brach, during their 2018 roster purge. Baltimore would have dealt Jones as well, but he was unwilling to waive his 10-and-5 rights. Jones may be interested in returning, but he would likely need to accept a significantly reduced role as the Orioles look to the future.

Boston Red Sox
Key free agents: RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Craig Kimbrel, 2B Ian Kinsler, IF Eduardo Nunez (player option), 1B/OF Steve Pearce, 2B Brandon Phillips, LHP Drew Pomeranz, LHP David Price (can opt out of his contract), LHP Chris Sale (club option)

Even if the Red Sox pick up Chris Sale's $15 million club option for 2019, which they likely will, and David Price doesn't opt out of the four years and $127 million remaining on his contract, they still have a number of important players hitting free agency. Kimbrel is the biggest name among them, though it's unclear if Boston will be willing to hand out a big contract for a player who regressed some from '17 to '18 and was shaky in the playoffs. The Red Sox will probably look to re-sign Eovaldi, who excelled after joining the club in a July trade (3.33 ERA, 2.88 FIP).

New York Yankees
Key free agents: LHP Zach Britton, OF Brett Gardner (club option), LHP J.A. Happ, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Lance Lynn, OF Andrew McCutchen, RHP David Robertson, LHP CC Sabathia, 2B/OF Neil Walker

The Yankees have a busy offseason ahead of them, especially on the pitching side of the ledger. Even if prospect Justus Sheffield is ready to claim a rotation spot behind Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka, that still leaves two open starting jobs. Meanwhile, the Yankees' vaunted bullpen could lose two key pieces in Robertson and Britton. Gardner was New York's longest-tenured player in 2018, but the club may pass on his $12.5 million club option ($2 million buyout) after the veteran outfielder posted a .690 OPS this past season.

Tampa Bay Rays
Key free agents: OF Carlos Gomez, RHP Sergio Romo

Romo was an integral member of the Rays' pitching staff for much of the 2018 season, racking up 25 saves and making five appearances as an "opener." However, he recorded a 10.00 ERA in September and will be 36 years old on Opening Day in '19. The cost-conscious Rays may opt to move on and give an opportunity to a younger alternative. As for Gomez, the veteran outfielder is unlikely to be back after posting a .634 OPS over 118 games in 2018.

Toronto Blue Jays
Key free agents: RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP Marco Estrada, 1B Justin Smoak (club option), INF Yangervis Solarte (club option)

Much like Baltimore, Toronto dealt many impending free agents during the 2018 season, including Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Steve Pearce, Curtis Granderson and John Axford. With Rowdy Tellez looking ready for an expanded role at first base, the Jays could pick up Smoak's reasonable $8 million club option and then trade the veteran this offseason. Estrada is likely gone after recording a 5.27 ERA with a 4.97 FIP in 61 starts over the past two years, as the Blue Jays can likely get similar production from a younger and cheaper pitcher.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox
Key free agents: RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Miguel Gonzalez, RHP Nate Jones (club option), LHP Hector Santiago, RHP James Shields (club option)

The White Sox are close to emerging from their rebuild, and the club could look for more pitching help this offseason, since Michael Kopech is now sidelined for 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. They have a $4.65 million option for Jones that they could exercise, but it seems unlikely that they'd exercise Shields' $16 million club option.

Cleveland Indians
Key free agents: RHP Cody Allen, OF Michael Brantley, OF Melky Cabrera, RHP Carlos Carrasco (club option), OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Rajai Davis, 3B Josh Donaldson, OF Brandon Guyer (club option), LHP Andrew Miller, LHP Oliver Perez, IF Adam Rosales, RHP Josh Tomlin

Miller headlines a productive crop of prospective free agents departing Cleveland this season, with outfield and the bullpen being the two areas that stand to be hit hardest by the departures. Allen, Brantley and Miller are eligible for the $17.9 million qualifying offer. The Indians do have some security in the bullpen with midseason acquisitions Brad Hand and Adam Cimber both controllable for several more seasons, but bolstering the relief corps will be an offseason priority for the Tribe, who got subpar seasons from both Allen and Miller in 2018. Outfield is also an area of need, especially if Brantley departs, with no clear-cut starter at any of the three spots entering the offseason.

Detroit Tigers
Key free agents: SS Jose Iglesias, LHP Francisco Liriano, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Iglesias, Liriano and the retiring Victor Martinez are the key departures for the rebuilding Tigers, who also dealt impending free agent Mike Fiers to the A's in August. The Tigers will likely be in the market for a shortstop, as they don't have an immediate heir lined up in the event of Iglesias' departure, and will likely look to add to the rotation.

Kansas City Royals
Key free agents: SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Jason Hammel (mutual option), RHP Wily Peralta (club option)

After trading Jon Jay, Lucas Duda, Kelvin Herrera and Mike Moustakas this season, the Royals figure to let Escobar walk, as Adalberto Mondesi is now their starting shortstop. The Royals will almost certainly pay a $2 million buyout to get Hammel off the books instead of exercising his $12 million mutual option for 2019, but they could bring back Peralta, their closer, on a cheaper $3 million team option, especially since they'll likely be looking for bullpen help this offseason.

Minnesota Twins
Key free agents: RHP Matt Belisle, 2B Logan Forsythe, C Chris Gimenez, 1B/DH Joe Mauer, 1B/DH Logan Morrison (club option), RHP Ervin Santana (club option)

The most pressing offseason question for the Twins will be at first base with the possible departure of Mauer to either free agency or retirement and Morrison's disappointing performance in 2018, after which the Twins are not expected to pick up his $8 million option for 2019. The departures of Forsythe, Brian Dozier (traded to Dodgers) and Eduardo Escobar (traded to D-backs) also leave openings in the middle infield for the Twins. The Twins need lots of help in the bullpen and could always use more starting depth, with Santana's option unlikely to be picked up.

AL WEST
Los Angeles Angels
Key free agents: RHP Jim Johnson, RHP Garrett Richards, RHP Junichi Tazawa, OF Chris Young, OF Eric Young Jr., RHP Blake Wood

The Angels will retain much of their core. Johnson will likely draw interest on the open market for clubs in need of dependable bullpen arms. Richards pitched well in 16 starts this season, but will be out of action until 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Young also suffered a season-ending injury (labral tears in both hips) but is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Houston Astros
Key free agents: DH Evan Gattis, UTIL Marwin Gonzalez, LHP Dallas Keuchel, C Martin Maldonado, RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Tony Sipp

Keuchel figures to be one of the most sought-after starting pitchers on the market this winter. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner has spent his entire career with the Astros, but could anchor another team's staff in 2019. Morton also figures to draw considerable interest coming off his first All-Star season at age 34. Maldonado will be part of a deep class of veteran backstops.

Oakland A's
Key free agents: LHP Brett Anderson, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Jeurys Familia, RHP Edwin Jackson, OF Matt Joyce, 2B Jed Lowrie, C Jonathan Lucroy

The A's looming free agents are headlined by a pair of veterans in Lucroy and Lowrie. Lucroy is more likely to return with Franklin Barreto ready to take over as Oakland's everyday second baseman. Joyce is likely the odd man out in a crowded A's outfield. It's unclear if the A's will try to retain any of their veteran starting pitchers.

Seattle Mariners
Key free agents: 2B Gordon Beckham, DH Nelson Cruz, LHP Zach Duke, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, OF Cameron Maybin, RHP David Phelps, UTIL Andrew Romine, OF Denard Span (mutual option), RHP Adam Warren

Cruz represents the biggest free agent choice for the Mariners this winter. Both sides have expressed interest in a reunion, but Seattle must decide whether it wants to commit to a multi-year deal with the 38-year-old slugger or utilize that money elsewhere, with needs on the pitching staff and in center field. Span has a $12 million mutual option with a $4 million buyout. Iwakuma left the Mariners in September to pursue pitching opportunities in Japan.

Texas Rangers
Key free agents: SS Elvis Andrus (can opt out of his contract), 3B Adrian Beltre, C Robinson Chirinos (club option), RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Doug Fister (club option), RHP Yovani Gallardo, LHP Matt Moore (club option), LHP Martin Perez (club option)

The Rangers are awaiting Beltre's decision on his baseball future, and if the third baseman opts to continue playing, they could re-sign him. Andrus could opt out of his contract, leaving four years and $58 million on the table, but is more likely to stay put. The Rangers will likely pick up Chirinos' option, and decline their options on Moore and Fister. Perez's option is for $7.5 million and it remains to be seen what Texas will do with the left-hander coming off a down year. Colon and Gallardo aren't expected to return.

Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Coaching staff changes made; Oquendo out

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- A coaching staff that endured a summer shakeup will undergo another wave of change this offseason as the Cardinals deal with the domino effect of losing long-time third-base coach Jose Oquendo for a second time.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced Tuesday that Oquendo expressed a preference to find a coaching opportunity that would allow him to work near his home in Jupiter, Fla. As a result, Oquendo will leave manager Mike Shildt's coaching staff to take on an instruction role with Minor League players. He'll work primarily out of the club's Florida complex.

ST. LOUIS -- A coaching staff that endured a summer shakeup will undergo another wave of change this offseason as the Cardinals deal with the domino effect of losing long-time third-base coach Jose Oquendo for a second time.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced Tuesday that Oquendo expressed a preference to find a coaching opportunity that would allow him to work near his home in Jupiter, Fla. As a result, Oquendo will leave manager Mike Shildt's coaching staff to take on an instruction role with Minor League players. He'll work primarily out of the club's Florida complex.

Oquendo informed Mozeliak of his decision the week after the season ended.

"There's no doubt he's going to be a loss," Mozeliak said. "I'm glad he's staying in our organization. I think he brings value to our Minor Leagues, and he can help keep a pulse of what's going on."

Oquendo had returned to the Major League coaching staff in 2018 following a two-year hiatus during which he recovered from multiple knee surgeries. During his time away, Oquendo served as a special assistant to Mozeliak. With 17 seasons as a third-base coach, Oquendo was the longest-tenured coach on Shildt's staff.

Oquendo's departure prompted a necessary reshuffling of other coaching roles. Ron "Pop" Warner, who took over as bench coach in July, will be installed as the new third-base coach. Oliver Marmol, the team's first-base coach last year, will become Shildt's bench coach. He'll also continue to assist with infield instruction and will play a significant role in scripting Spring Training.

Mark Budaska will remain as an assistant hitting coach, while George Greer is slated to return to his role as offensive strategist within the player development system. Both hitting instructors joined the Cardinals midseason after Shildt was installed as manager.

Mike Maddux (pitching coach), Bryan Eversgerd (bullpen coach) and Willie McGee will all return to their same coaching positions.

That leaves two openings -- hitting coach and first-base coach -- still to be filled. Mozeliak confirmed that there is a "high probability" that Triple-A manager Stubby Clapp will assume one of those positions if he doesn't leave the organization for another opportunity.

There is speculation that Clapp is under consideration for the Blue Jays managerial job. Mozeliak would not comment on those rumors.

Clapp has led Memphis to back-to-back Pacific Coast League championships.

The Cardinals will simultaneously consider other internal and external candidates for the Major League coaching vacancies. Speaking specifically of the hitting coach job, Mozeliak said the organization will seek out candidates who are strongly suited to assist players with preparation and strategy.

"When you think about style or approach, really you want to be able to maximize what you're good at," Mozeliak said. "Having someone fit what our club looks like is more important than trying to bring someone in to change the club. Because it's hard to do that. And [we want someone] trying to understand what our strengths are as hitters. As we look to hire this, there will be an internal deep dive also into what this should look like so we can help whomever comes in here to hit the ground running to work toward those strengths."

Clapp's departure from Memphis -- whether it be to come to St. Louis or elsewhere -- will also prompt a cascade of coaching/managerial changes within the Cardinals' Minor League system. Those will be addressed later in the offseason.

"All of you who have been around me for a long time, we've always tried to emphasize our Minor Leagues and that being our strength," Mozeliak said. "There is no doubt this is going to create some churn."

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.

St. Louis Cardinals

Wainwright signs for 15th season with Cards

Right-hander, beset by injuries, made strong return in September
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Adam Wainwright's tenure as a St. Louis Cardinal will extend into a 15th season after he and the club reached an agreement on a one-year contract for 2019.

The two sides ended any speculation about the right-hander's future on Thursday when they announced the extension, which will follow a five-year, $97.5 million contract that expired with this season. Financial terms of Wainwright's next deal were not disclosed by the club, but a source confirmed that the contract features a low base salary with "significant incentives." Those include incentives that are tied to both starting and relieving.

ST. LOUIS -- Adam Wainwright's tenure as a St. Louis Cardinal will extend into a 15th season after he and the club reached an agreement on a one-year contract for 2019.

The two sides ended any speculation about the right-hander's future on Thursday when they announced the extension, which will follow a five-year, $97.5 million contract that expired with this season. Financial terms of Wainwright's next deal were not disclosed by the club, but a source confirmed that the contract features a low base salary with "significant incentives." Those include incentives that are tied to both starting and relieving.

Video: Wainwright agrees to 1-year deal with Cards for 2019

"He'll come to Spring Training as a starting pitcher, and then we'll see how things work out," general manager Michael Girsch said. "Obviously, we have a lot of starting pitching options, but the majority of those starting pitching options have also pitched in the bullpen in the last six months. So we have a lot of ways to sort through things."

Tweet from @Cardinals: ONE MORE YEAR!The #STLCards have agreed to terms with veteran pitcher @UncleCharlie50 on a one-year contract for next season. Wainwright will enter his 15th season with the Cardinals in 2019, matching Bob Forsch for the third-most as a pitcher in a Redbirds uniform. pic.twitter.com/pf23XN3jgS

Other pitchers projected to compete for rotation spots alongside Wainwright include Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Austin Gomber, John Gant and Daniel Poncedeleon. All are already under contract.

The decision to craft an incentive-laden contract shields the Cardinals from assuming too much financial risk. That was a necessity for the organization, which has watched Wainwright be limited to 68 starts since 2015. This year, he made eight.

Wainwright has been on the disabled list six times over the past four seasons, most recently for a four-month stretch in 2018 to recover from another right elbow injury. Still, when the 37-year-old returned to the rotation in September, he did so rejuvenated and encouraged by a return in strength and velocity.

Video: LAD@STL: Wainwright K's 9 over 6 scoreless frames

In four starts, Wainwright allowed 12 earned runs on 22 hits in 22 1/3 innings, but also walked just four while striking out 25. That stretch -- and the 17 scoreless rehab innings that preceded it -- left Wainwright feeling certain he hadn't reached the end of his career.

"The way I'm feeling now, if that is my last start, it would be kind of hard to walk away knowing how I'm feeling right now," Wainwright said after his five-inning season finale on Sept. 28. "I've got good stuff. I've had better stuff these last four games than I've had these last two years. I've found the youth."

Just days earlier, he and the Cardinals had begun discussions about ways to extend his career with in St. Louis.

"The way he pitched in that rehab assignment and the way he pitched in September is what established the fact that he can still pitch in the big leagues," Girsch said. "He was an able and effective Major League pitcher. It became obvious that he wanted to come back. He had convinced himself that he could do it."

Just as importantly: He had also convinced the Cardinals.

"Adam has proven, when healthy, that he still has the ability and the drive to contribute at the highest level," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "We saw it in Spring Training, and again late in the season, that once he had overcome his ailments, he was prepared to give us a winning effort every time he took the mound. There is risk, but it is shared, and this deal gives us added depth as we look to 2019."

With his 15th season in St. Louis, Wainwright will match Bob Forsch (1974-88) for third-most by a pitcher in a Cardinals uniform. Only Jesse Haines (18 years) and Bob Gibson (17) accrued more.

Including his time in the Minors, Wainwright has been a member of the organization since December 2003.

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.

St. Louis Cardinals, Adam Wainwright

Pipeline names Cards' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Standing on the Busch Stadium field in mid-August, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. had just spent several minutes evaluating the job of new manager Mike Shildt when the conversation took an unexpected tangent. He wanted to talk about Elehuris Montero.

The 20-year-old prospect had just become the first Peoria player to win Midwest League MVP honors since Albert Pujols in 2000, and DeWitt was among those most interested and impressed by the third baseman's standout season.

ST. LOUIS -- Standing on the Busch Stadium field in mid-August, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. had just spent several minutes evaluating the job of new manager Mike Shildt when the conversation took an unexpected tangent. He wanted to talk about Elehuris Montero.

The 20-year-old prospect had just become the first Peoria player to win Midwest League MVP honors since Albert Pujols in 2000, and DeWitt was among those most interested and impressed by the third baseman's standout season.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The recognition continues for Montero, who has also been chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff as the Cardinals' Hitting Prospect of the Year. Daniel Poncedeleon, a key contributor at the big-league level in the second half, was named the organization's Pitching Prospect of the Year.

To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appear on the team's Top 30 Prospects list. Montero ranks seventh in the Cardinals' prospect rankings, while Poncedeleon slots in at No. 29.

Montero had not played for a full-season affiliate until this year, when he opened with Class A Peoria. In 103 games with the Chiefs, Montero slashed .322/.381/.529 with a .910 OPS. At the time he was promoted to Class A Advanced Palm Beach on Aug. 7, Montero was leading the Midwest League with 201 total bases, 123 hits, 46 extra-base hits and 28 doubles.

Video: Top Prospects: Elehuris Montero, 3B, Cardinals

Montero's 69 RBIs were the most by a Peoria player since Jacob Wilson drove in 72 in 2013, and Montero was the first teenager in franchise history to ever hit 15 home runs. He finished the season with Class A Advanced Palm Beach, where Montero hit .286/.330/.408.

Left off the Cardinals' Top 30 prospect list entering 2018, Poncedeleon completed an incredible comeback from brain surgery by rising all the way to St. Louis. But before he began his Major League career with seven no-hit innings on July 23, Poncedeleon ranked among the Pacific Coast League leaders with his 2.15 ERA and .198 opponents' batting average in 18 starts.

Video: STL@CIN: Poncedeleon hurls 7 no-hit frames in debut

One year after taking a line drive off his skull, Poncedeleon finished the year with 19 appearances (18 starts) for Memphis. He led all Memphis starters with a 2.24 ERA and posted a 1.24 WHIP while striking out 141 over 129 1/3 innings.

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.

St. Louis Cardinals, Daniel Poncedeleon

Here's what happened in Tuesday's AFL action

MLB.com

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Tuesday:

• Gameday: Salt River 2, Mesa 1 | Scottsdale 6, Glendale 1 | Surprise 8, Peoria 16

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Tuesday:

• Gameday: Salt River 2, Mesa 1 | Scottsdale 6, Glendale 1 | Surprise 8, Peoria 16

AL East

Blue Jays (Surprise)
No. 1 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. continued to rake, going 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and a walk for Surprise. Guerrero also stole his first base of the Fall League season. Santiago Espinal (Blue Jays' No. 22 prospect) went 0-for-3 with two walks, a run scored and a stolen base. Zach Jackson allowed three runs on one hit and two walks with one strikeout in two-thirds of an inning of relief.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

Orioles (Glendale)
Martin Cervenka went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk for Glendale. Steve Wilkerson went 1-for-4 from the leadoff spot.

Rays (Peoria)
Rays No. 9 prospect Lucius Fox went 2-for-5 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot for Peoria. Phoenix Sanders tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit and two walks with one strikeout.

Red Sox (Mesa)
Red Sox No. 6 prospect Bobby Dalbec drove in a run, his fifth AFL RBI, as part of a 2-for-3 night.

Yankees (Glendale)
Yankees No. 2 prospect Estevan Florial went 0-for-3 with a walk and scored Glendale's lone run. Steven Sensley went 0-for-3 with a walk. Matt Wivinis tossed two scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit and one walk with one strikeout. Hobie Harris allowed one run on one hit and one walk in one inning of relief.

AL Central

Indians (Glendale)
Indians No. 6 prospect Yu Chang went 1-for-4 with a single for Glendale. Connor Marabell went 0-for-4. Dalbert Siri pitched a scoreless inning of relief, issuing one walk.

Royals (Peoria)
Royals No. 2 prospect Khalil Lee went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his first long ball of the Fall League season, and a double for Surprise. Nick Heath went 3-for-4 with two walks, two runs scored and three stolen bases out of the leadoff spot. Meibrys Viloria went 0-for-4 with a walk.

Tigers (Mesa)
Tigers No. 14 prospect Gregory Soto got the start for Mesa and gave up one run on five hits over four innings. Daniel Pinero went 1-for-3.

Twins (Salt River)
Twins No. 18 prospect Travis Blankenhorn drew a walk, but was otherwise 0-for-3. Adam Bray threw an inning in relief and gave up one run on two hits. Hector Lujan fared a bit better as he threw a frame and retired the side in order. Devin Smeltzer took the mound next and gave up one hit in a scoreless inning.

White Sox (Glendale)
White Sox No. 9 prospect Luis Alexander Basabe went 1-for-4 with a single for Glendale. Zach Thompson allowed three unearned runs on two hits in an inning of relief. Luis Robert (No. 4) got the day off.

AL West

A's (Mesa)
Athletics No. 30 prospect Skye Bolt put together a strong night at the plate as he went 2-for-4 with a triple. Eli White (No. 18) went 0-for-2.

Angels (Mesa)
Angels No. 4 prospect Jahmai Jones went hitless (0-for-4), while Daniel Procopio threw two scoreless innings and gave up two hits.

Astros (Scottsdale)
Astros No. 2 prospect Forrest Whitley tossed four innings and notched his first win of the Fall League season for Scottsdale. The right-hander allowed one unearned run on two hits and a walk, striking out six. Ronnie Dawson went 1-for-4 with an RBI double. Drew Ferguson went 0-for-3 with an RBI. Erasmo Pinales tossed a scoreless inning, walking two and striking out one. More »

Video: Forrest Whitley on great start in Fall League

Mariners (Peoria)
Mariners No. 20 prospect Ian Miller hit a go-ahead, three-run home run for Peoria, finishing 1-for-3 with three RBIs, two walks and two runs scored. Evan White (No. 2) went 1-for-5 with two RBIs and a walk. Chris Mariscal went 3-for-5 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. Matt Walker allowed three runs on one hit and three walks in one-third of an inning. More »

Video: Ian Miller on his homer, win in Fall League

Rangers (Surprise)
Yanio Perez went 2-for-6 with two RBIs out of the cleanup spot for Surprise. Julio Pablo Martinez (Rangers' No. 2 prospect) went 1-for-4 with two walks, a run scored and a stolen base. Joe Barlow struck out the only batter he faced in relief.

NL East

Braves (Peoria)
Braves No. 12 prospect Kyle Muller notched his first win of the Fall League season for Peoria, tossing two scoreless innings of relief. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out three. Cristian Pache (No. 6) went 3-for-6 with two doubles and two runs scored out of the cleanup spot. Braxton Davidson went 1-for-2 with three walks and three runs scored.

Marlins (Salt River)
Marlins No. 26 prospect Bryson Brigman picked up a pair of his and went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot for Salt River. Brian Miller (No. 11) also got a hit and finished 1-for-3. Monte Harrison (No. 1) went 0-for-3, but reached once via a walk.

Mets (Scottsdale)
Mets No. 2 prospect Peter Alonso hit his second home run of the Fall League season for Scottsdale. He also doubled, drove in two runs and scored a pair, finishing 2-for-3. Ali Sanchez (No. 25) started at catcher and went 0-for-4. Matt Blackham pitched a perfect sixth inning and Joe Zanghi pitched a perfect seventh, each notching a strikeout.

Nationals (Salt River)
Nationals No. 23 prospect Luis Reyes tossed five scoreless innings of two-hit ball while giving up just two walks and striking out three. Reyes, who arguably has the best stuff in Washington's system but has struggled with command, also struck out three. Tres Barrera (No. 15) went 2-for-4.

Phillies (Scottsdale)
Phillies No. 11 prospect Arquimedes Gamboa went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored for Scottsdale. Luke Williams went 0-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored.

NL Central

Brewers (Peoria)
Brewers No. 1 prospect Keston Hiura (No. 30 overall) had a huge day for Peoria, going 3-for-5 with a home run, a triple, five RBIs, a walk and two runs scored. Hiura also made a nice defensive play during the sixth inning, using his glove to scoop a ground ball to first base for an out. Trent Grisham (Milwaukee's No. 19) went 0-for-3 with an RBI, two walks and a run scored. Mario Feliciano (No. 23) started at catcher and went 0-for-1. Bubba Derby got the start and allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

Cardinals (Surprise)
Evan Kruczynski started for Surprise, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings with three hits allowed, three walks and three strikeouts. Conner Greene (Cardinals' No. 27 prospect) took the loss, allowing six runs on five hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning of relief. Will Latcham allowed five runs on three hits and three walks in one-third of an inning of relief.

Cubs (Mesa)
Cubs No. 16 prospect D.J. Wilson was 0-for-4, as was Jhonny Pereda. Bailey Clark fired two perfect innings and struck out a pair in the process.

Pirates (Surprise)
Pirates No. 5 prospect Cole Tucker went 1-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored for Surprise. Bryan Reynolds (No. 9) went 0-for-3 with two walks, a run scored and a stolen base. Blake Weiman tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing two hits and striking out one. Matt Eckelman allowed two runs on two hits and one walk in one inning of relief.

Reds (Scottsdale)
Reds prospects Taylor Trammell (No. 3) and Shed Long (No. 8) each notched a single for Scottsdale. Alfredo Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Trammell also scored a run. Ty Boyles tossed a scoreless inning of relief, allowing one hit and striking out two.

NL West

D-backs (Salt River)
Pavin Smith, the D-backs' No. 4 prospect, went 1-for-4, but the hit was a go-ahead single in the top of the ninth. Drew Ellis (No. 9) went 0-for-4.

Dodgers (Glendale)
Ben Holmes started for Glendale and allowed two runs on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts. It was Holmes' first loss of the Fall League season. Errol Robinson (Dodgers' No. 20 prospect) went 0-for-3. Jared Walker went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Giants (Scottsdale)
Chase Johnson tossed a scoreless inning of relief for Scottsdale, allowing one hit and one walk.

Padres (Peoria)
Padres No. 25 prospect Austin Allen entered as a pinch-hitter for Peoria and went 2-for-2 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored. Travis Radke allowed one run on two hits and three walks with four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings of relief.

Rockies (Salt River)
Josh Fuentes went 1-for-4 at the plate, while Sam Hilliard, the Rockies No. 9 prospect, went 2-for-4 and continued his fast start in the AFL. Justin Lawrence (No. 17) picked up the save and struck out two in his inning of work. More »

Every club's best individual playoff performance

From MadBum to Mr. October, these runs went down in franchise lore
MLB.com

One of the many joys of baseball's postseason is how one player can make such an outsized difference. There's no better time for a player to go on a hot streak than in the playoffs, when he's able to carry his team for a whole series -- maybe even to a championship. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, of zeniths and nadirs, and everyone wants to break out and have a heater in October.

With that in mind, we look at the greatest postseason runs by a player on each of baseball's 30 teams. These are the sort of streaks that make legends in their hometowns ... the sort of runs we'll talk about forever.

One of the many joys of baseball's postseason is how one player can make such an outsized difference. There's no better time for a player to go on a hot streak than in the playoffs, when he's able to carry his team for a whole series -- maybe even to a championship. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, of zeniths and nadirs, and everyone wants to break out and have a heater in October.

With that in mind, we look at the greatest postseason runs by a player on each of baseball's 30 teams. These are the sort of streaks that make legends in their hometowns ... the sort of runs we'll talk about forever.

Note: We're sticking to the divisional era here, which goes back to 1969, and is the dawn of the modern postseason.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Paul Molitor, 1993
.447/.527/.851, World Series MVP
Everyone remembers the Joe Carter homer, but Molitor was a monster that whole postseason for the Blue Jays at the age of 37. He was terrific back in 1982 for the Brewers, too.

Orioles: Brooks Robinson, 1970
.485/.471/.788, World Series MVP
This was, of course, the same World Series in which he made the ridiculous play at third base … though with Robinson, it's always a question of which ridiculous play.

Video: #WeKnowPostseason: Robinson's Play

Rays: James Shields, 2008
2-2, 25 IP, 2.88 ERA
This is where the "Big Game James" nickname came from, even if it maybe lasted a year or two longer than it should have.

Red Sox: David Ortiz, 2004
.400/.515/.764, ALCS MVP
It's rather difficult, all told, to figure out which Ortiz postseason to pick: He had an OPS over 1.204 in October for all three of the Red Sox championship teams he played for.

Video: 2004 ALCS Gm7: Ortiz's homer gives Red Sox early lead

Yankees: Reggie Jackson, 1978
.417/.511/.806
The highest qualified OPS by Yankees are, in fact, 2018 Aaron Judge and 2006 Derek Jeter ... but how do you not pick Mr. October?

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Orel Hershiser, 1995
4-1, 35 1/3 IP, 1.53 ERA, ALCS MVP
The season with the other Indians' World Series loss -- no, the other one -- featured vintage Hershiser ... and he split a couple of duels with Greg Maddux in the World Series, too.

Royals: Danny Jackson, 1985
2-1, 26 IP, 1.04 ERA
Bret Saberhagen is remembered as the hero of this Royals team -- along with Don Denkinger, of course -- but Jackson was actually the best pitcher for the Royals that postseason.

Tigers: Alan Trammell, 1984
.419/.500/.806, World Series MVP
Trammell put the perfect capper on the Tigers' dream season. This was a quiet argument for Trammell's Hall of Fame candidacy.

Twins: Jack Morris, 1991
4-0, 36 1/3 IP, 2.23 ERA, World Series MVP
Speaking of the Hall of Fame ... this postseason is almost certainly why Morris currently has a plaque in Cooperstown.

Video: 1991 WS Gm7: Morris' 10-inning shutout

White Sox: Jermaine Dye, 2005
.311/.415/.444, World Series MVP
Several White Sox players had a higher OPS than Dye that postseason -- including Joe Crede, Scott Podsednik and Paul Konerko -- but you've got to go with the World Series MVP.

AL WEST

Angels: Francisco Rodriguez, 2002
5-1, 18 2/3 IP, 1.93 ERA
Back when there were more rigid bullpen roles, K-Rod was deployed liberally and devastatingly in 2002, back when he was 20 years old.

Astros: Carlos Beltran, 2004
.435/.536/1.022
Cardinals fans will be having nightmares about 2004 Carlos Beltran for decades to come ... and they won that series.

Video: 2004 NLCS Gm4: Beltran hits eighth homer of playoffs

Athletics: Dave Stewart, 1989
4-0, 32 IP, 2.25 ERA, World Series MVP
Stewart had a career 2.77 postseason ERA in 133 innings ... he would actually win the ALCS MVP the very next season, too.

Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr., 1995
.364/.442/.818
Jay Buhner was just as good as The Kid in 1995 ... but Griffey is Griffey.

Rangers: Juan Gonzalez, 1996
.438/.526/1.375
The Rangers actually lost this Division Series in four games, but good heavens, was Juan Gone ever a monster, hitting five homers in four games.

Video: 1996 ALDS Gm4: Juan Gonzalez's fifth home run of ALDS

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: John Smoltz, 1996
4-1, 38 IP, 0.95 ERA
You could also go with Greg Maddux's 1995 run -- since the Braves won the World Series that year, after all -- and you wouldn't be wrong.

Marlins: Josh Beckett, 2003
2-2, 42 2/3 IP, 2.11 ERA, World Series MVP
After the Yankees and Red Sox had their first of two epic postseason battles, Beckett was happy to pick up the pieces in the World Series.

Video: WS Gm6: Beckett shuts out Yanks as Marlins win series

Mets: Bobby Ojeda, 1986
2-0, 27 IP, 2.33 ERA
Of all the great Mets starters on that team, it was Ojeda who had the best postseason.

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, 2017
1-1, 14 IP, 0.00 ERA
Since we're excluding the Expos -- if we weren't, Steve Rogers in 1981 would be the obvious answer here -- we must dig into the gruesome land of the Nationals' postseason failures. Strasburg has the ultimate Nationals playoff line: 0 earned runs, 1 loss.

Video: WSH@CHC Gm4: Strasburg K's 12 over seven scoreless

Phillies: Cliff Lee, 2009
4-0, 40 1/3 IP, 1.56 ERA
Cole Hamels had the World Series MVP in '08, but Lee was actually better, in five more innings.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Ryan Braun, 2011
.405/.468/.714
This postseason performance feels like a lifetime ago, but it's one the Brewers sure would appreciate a repeat of.

Cardinals: David Freese, 2011
.397/.465/.794, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Freese actually struggled in the NLDS this season ... though he ended up making up for it.

Video: Must C Comeback: Freese's triple ties it up in ninth

Cubs: Jon Lester, 2016
3-1, 35 2/3 IP, 2.02 ERA, NLCS co-MVP
Lester still feels like the postseason starter Cubs fans trust most, and probably always will.

Pirates: Willie Stargell, 1979
.415/.435/.927, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
He also shared the regular-season MVP Award this year, pulling off the rare trifecta.

Reds: Johnny Bench, 1976
.444/.464/.926, World Series MVP
Bench was as dominant as the Reds were in this matter-of-fact World Series sweep.

NL WEST

D-backs: Curt Schilling, 2001
4-0, 48 1/3 IP, 1.12 ERA, World Series co-MVP
Randy Johnson's line this exact 2001 postseason: 5-1, 41 1/3 IP, 1.52 ERA. That is ... difficult to beat.

Video: WS2001 Gm4: Schilling comes up clutch on short rest

Dodgers: Hershiser, 1988
3-0, 1 SV, 42 2/3 IP, 1.05 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Hershiser is the only pitcher to be on this list twice ... and how could he not be?

Giants: Madison Bumgarner, 2014
4-1, 1 SV, 52 2/3 IP, 1.03 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
This is an obvious pick, but at this point I'd like to remind you that Barry Bonds put up a .356/.581/.978 in 2002.

Video: WS2014 Gm7: Bumgarner sets postseason innings record

Padres: Sterling Hitchcock, 1998
3-0, 22 IP, 1.23 ERA, NLCS MVP
He gave up only one earned run in six innings in his lone World Series start ... not that it did the Padres much good.

Rockies: Kaz Matsui, 2007
.304/.347/.500
It was a strange postseason for the Rockies in 2007, but if you forget the World Series happened altogether, it was a glorious one.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Each team's greatest postseason moment

The most memorable October event of the divisional era for every club
MLB.com

There are just four teams remaining in this year's postseason, but every fan, even those of the Mariners (the team with the longest postseason drought, now up to 17 seasons), can relate to what it feels like to be in the playoffs. The late nights, the constant tension, the stakes so high you can barely breathe ... and when something wonderful happens, the release and the pure, unbridled jubilation.

With that in mind, we take a look at the greatest postseason moments of the division era. Even if your team isn't a postseason team, you can remember your great October moments … and if it is, you can dream of maybe having another one this month that's even better.

There are just four teams remaining in this year's postseason, but every fan, even those of the Mariners (the team with the longest postseason drought, now up to 17 seasons), can relate to what it feels like to be in the playoffs. The late nights, the constant tension, the stakes so high you can barely breathe ... and when something wonderful happens, the release and the pure, unbridled jubilation.

With that in mind, we take a look at the greatest postseason moments of the division era. Even if your team isn't a postseason team, you can remember your great October moments … and if it is, you can dream of maybe having another one this month that's even better.

(For the purpose of this exercise, we are going back to 1969, which is the start of divisional play and the birth of the postseason as we know it.)

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Joe Carter's World Series walk-off, Oct. 23, 1993
The Blue Jays might not have that many postseason moments, but the greatness of this one more than makes up for that. Runner-up: Jose Bautista's ALDS Game 5 bat flip, Oct. 14, 2015.

Video: 93 WS, GM 6, PHI@TOR: Joe Carter touches them all

Orioles: Brooks Robinson's incredible play, 1970 World Series, Oct. 10, 1970
The best part about this play, which might be the greatest defensive play in World Series history, is how surprised the umpire looks. Even he can't believe what he just saw. Runner-up: David McNally's grand slam, World Series Game 3, Oct. 13, 1970.

Rays: First and only World Series trip clinched, Oct. 19, 2008
A decade ago, and still pretty jaw-dropping that all this happened. Runner-up: Grant Balfour strikes out Ken Griffey Jr. to clinch the first ALDS victory, Oct. 6, 2008.

Red Sox: First World Series title since 1918, Oct. 27, 2004
You might remember when this happened. (It's when lifelong Red Sox fans Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore got on television.) Runner-up: David Ortiz's ALCS grand slam vs. the Tigers sent a cop joyous in the bullpen and turns the series around on Oct. 13, 2013.

Video: Must C Classic: Red Sox win first WS since 1918

Yankees: Reggie Jackson's three homers in 1977 World Series
There's a reason no one else gets to be called "Mr. October." Runner-up: Mr. November -- Derek Jeter's World Series Game 5 walk-off homer on Nov. 1, 2001.

Video: 1977 WS Gm6: Reggie becomes Mr. October

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Eddie Murray's walk-off, Game 3, 1995 World Series, Oct. 24, 1995
It was Cleveland's first World Series game in 41 years, and ended with a Hall of Famer sending the crowd into euphorics. Runner-up: Rajai Davis' home run off Aroldis Chapman, 2016 World Series, Nov. 2, 2016

Royals: Royals win 2015 World Series, Nov. 1, 2015
It was a magical season and a magical World Series that just seems more improbable each year that goes by. Runner-up: The Don Denkinger play, and aftermath, 1985 World Series, Oct. 26, 1985.

Tigers: Magglio Ordonez sends Tigers to World Series, Oct. 14, 2006
The sounds that crowd makes the minute the bat meets the ball still gives you chills 12 years later. Runner-up: Kirk Gibson's Game 5 homer, 1984 World Series.

Twins: Kirby Puckett's Game 6 walk-off, 1991 World Series, Oct. 26, 1991
The original "We Will See You Tomorrow Night." Runner-up: Twins win 1987 World Series, their first in Minnesota, Oct. 25, 1987.

Video: Must C Classic: Puckett crushes a walk-off homer

White Sox: White Sox win 2005 World Series, Oct. 26, 2015
A game that was razor-tight, in a series that was much closer than anyone remembers. Runner-up: Scott Podsednik's Game 2 walk-off, Oct. 23, 2015.

AL WEST

Angels: Scott Spiezio's homer, Game 6, 2002 World Series, Oct. 26, 2002
The most Rally Monkey of all the Rally Monkey moments, his three-run clout cued the rally from a 5-0 deficit. Runner-up: Troy Percival gets last out to win 2002 World Series, Oct. 27, 2002.

Astros: Charlie Morton finishes the Dodgers off, 2017 World Series, Nov. 1, 2017
This was so long ago you might not remember it, but trust me, it was wonderful. Runner-up: Chris Burke sends everybody home after 18 innings, 2005 NLDS.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Morton induces groundout to close out WS

Athletics: Eck closes out the 1989 World Series, October 28, 1989
When in doubt, go with the Hall of Famer closing out a series for an all-time great team. Runner-up: Joe Rudi's amazing catch, World Series Game 2, Oct. 14, 1973.

Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr. slides home to win the 1995 ALDS, Oct. 8, 1995
Basically, everything wonderful about the history of Mariners baseball, happening in one play. Runner-up: Mariners win most recent postseason series, 2001 ALDS over Cleveland.

Video: Griffey slides home to clinch the ALDS in 1995

Rangers: Neftali Feliz sends Texas to its first World Series, 2010 ALCS, Oct. 22, 2010
Over the hated Yankees, no less. Runner-up: Josh Hamilton's 2011 World Series Game 6 homer, which was this close to being one of the greatest baseball moments of recent memory.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Only World Series win in Atlanta, Oct. 28, 1995
It still seems amazing that this is the only one they ever got. Runner-up: The Sid Bream Slide, Oct. 14, 1992.

Marlins: Edgar Renteria's walk-off to win 1997 World Series, Oct. 26, 1997
Poor Cleveland. Runner-up: The Bartman play, and all that followed, 2003 NLCS.

Video: WS1997 Gm7: Fish win first WS on Renteria's walk-off

Mets: Mookie Wilson reaches base, Ray Knight scores, Mets win on Bill Buckner's error, Game 6, 1986 World Series, Oct. 25, 1986
A Mets comeback for the ages. Runner-up: Miracle Mets win 1969 World Series.

Video: 1986 World Series, Game 6: Red Sox at Mets

Nationals: Jayson Werth's 2012 NLDS walk-off, Oct. 11, 2012
After this, the Nats lost the series. But for the moment, it was great. Runner-up: Strasburg fans 12 to extend last year's NLDS.

Phillies: Brad Lidge gets the last out of a long game, 2008 World Series, Oct. 27, 2008
It took a couple of days for this game to actually finish, but no Phillies fan would ever complain. Runner-up: Roy Halladay's no-hitter, 2010 NLDS against Cincinnati.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Paul Molitor's inside-the-park homer, 1982 ALCS, Oct. 6, 1982
Runner-up: Nyjer Morgan's walk-off over Arizona in 2011 NLDS, particularly when called by Bob Uecker.

Cardinals: David Freese's triple to tie 2011 World Series Game 6, Oct. 27, 2011
The walk-off homer in the 11th gets more air time, but this was truly one of the most insane hits in World Series history. Runner-up: Ozzie Smith's 1985 NLCS homer off Tom Niedenfuer, the "Go Crazy, Folks" moment.

Video: WS2011 Gm6: Freese saves the Cards with a huge triple

Cubs: History in 2016
This was … not a tough call. Runner-up: Kyle Schwarber's shot atop the Wrigley scoreboard, Game 4, 2015 NLDS.

Video: Cubs win first World Series title in 108 years

Pirates: Willie Stargell's homer, 1979 World Series, Game 7, Oct. 17, 1979
And to do it in such beautiful threadsRunner-up: Pirates fans scare Johnny Cueto into dropping the ball, 2013 NL Wild Card Game at PNC Park.

Reds: Big Red Machine wins a Fall Classic for the ages, Oct. 22, 1975
It's only East Coast Bias that makes you think of Carlton Fisk when you think of this series. Runner-up: Reds sweep heavily favored A's in 1990 World Series.

NL WEST

D-backs: Luis Gonzalez off Mariano Rivera, 2001 World Series, Nov. 4, 2001
Ah, the perils of playing the infield in … Runner-up: Tony Womack's hit in 2001 NLDS.

Video: Must C Classic: Gonzalez walks off, wins World Series

Dodgers: Kirk Gibson pulls himself around the bases, 1988 World Series
Runner-up: Juan Uribe's 2013 go-ahead homer in Game 4 NLDS against Atlanta.

Video: Must C Classic: Gibson's 1988 WS walk-off home run

Giants: First World Series win in San Francisco, 2010 World Series, Nov. 1, 2010
Edgar Renteria hit .412 with two homers and six RBIs and the city got its first celebration. Runner-up: Madison Bumgarner's dominance in 2014 World Series.

Padres: Tony Gwynn's bad hop double, 1984 NLCS, Game 5, Oct. 7, 1984
The biggest hit of Gwynn's career was a bizarre one, but it got the job done. Runner-up: Padres finish off Braves to win 1998 NLCS.

Rockies: The Holliday slide, Oct. 1, 2007
He touched the plate … well, eventually. Maybe not technically the postseason either, but it came after Game 162. Runner-up: Rockies sweep D-backs to reach 2007 World Series.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Inbox: What changes should Cards make?

MLB.com

Another October sans baseball in St. Louis leaves the fanbase forced to think about next year earlier than everyone had hoped. And given all the questions submitted, there are a lot of topics on your minds. Let's get to a few of them in our first offseason Inbox:

What area (bullpen, infield, starting pitching) do you think needs to be focused on the most this offseason so that St. Louis can improve next year?
-- Nick T. (@nicktrip444)

Another October sans baseball in St. Louis leaves the fanbase forced to think about next year earlier than everyone had hoped. And given all the questions submitted, there are a lot of topics on your minds. Let's get to a few of them in our first offseason Inbox:

What area (bullpen, infield, starting pitching) do you think needs to be focused on the most this offseason so that St. Louis can improve next year?
-- Nick T. (@nicktrip444)

First, let's consider the gap the Cardinals have to close in the National League Central. They finished with 88 wins. The Cubs had 95. The Brewers tallied 96. I mention that to make this point: The Cardinals have a sizeable deficit to make up. Some of that can come from internal improvement, but much of it is going to have to happen through roster turnover. And there are plenty of deficiencies to address.

:: Submit a question to the Cardinals Inbox ::

I'd list the offense (impact bat) and bullpen (multiple late-inning arms, including at least one reliable left-hander) as 1A and 1B, respectively. These needs aren't all that different from the ones we were discussing 12 months ago. That impact bat would best fit in right field or third base, and the Cards do need to balance all their right-handed hitters with some left-handed options. Furthermore, improving the defense (particularly down the lines) will be a necessity for a team building around its pitching.

Aside from Machado and Harper, this free agent class isn't great. Should we take care of arbitration-eligible players that we plan to keep and then make a run at 2019 free agents?
-- Kevin H. (@TheRealHuff8)

Before we get to the question, let me note that I disagree with your premise. Indeed, the focus of this free-agent class will be Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. But behind them, the market is deep in talent. There are impact pitchers available, including Dallas Keuchel, Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, Craig Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino, Andrew Miller. And below Machado/Harper are plenty of intriguing position player possibilities: Josh Donaldson, Eduardo Escobar, Jed Lowrie, Jose Iglesias, A.J. Pollock, Nick Markakis, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, DJ LeMahieu, Brian Dozier, among them.

I mention these players to make the point that even if the Cardinals do not land Machado or Harper, there is no reason why they can't improve their club by signing other free agents. To sit out of free agency this year with the intention of going all-in next season is a strategy I wouldn't expect the Cardinals to employ. They have the financial flexibility to go big now and still not be handcuffed to add again next winter when theyn could lose Michael Wacha, Miles Mikolas and Marcell Ozuna to free agency.

What are the chances the Cardinals move on from Brett Cecil, Luke Gregerson and Dexter Fowler this offseason?
-- Aaron H. (@Hammy_282)

When it comes to complicated contracts, these are a few of them. Not so much Gregerson, who will be owed $5 million in 2019. He dealt with a plethora of injuries this year, but the Cardinals might as well let that contract play out and see if a healthy Gregerson can be an effective one next year.

Cecil and Fowler are different cases. I would expect the Cards to explore interest for Fowler, though it's unlikely there's much given that he's coming off a career-worst year and has $49.5 million still due on his contract. The fact that he's recovering from another lower-body injury would give potential suitors pause, too. Oh, and there's the whole no-trade clause thing. Perhaps the Cardinals could entice him to accept a trade elsewhere if they sign another starting right fielder, though even that is uncertain.

Cecil, whom the Cards signed to a four-year, $30.5 million contract in Nov. 2016, has given the club no return for that investment. He has no trade value, which means the Cards could eat the $14.5 million remaining on the deal or bring him back for one more try. If the Cards go the latter route, they'd be wise to cut ties with Cecil during Spring Training if it's once again evident that he's not a valuable arm for the 'pen.

How likely is it that the Cardinals re-sign Matt Adams, given how happy the fans were to see him return this year?
-- Stephen H. (@ephesossh)

Not likely. I know Adams was thrilled to rejoin the organization and would welcome a longer stay. But where would he fit? The Cardinals already have a left-handed hitting first baseman in Matt Carpenter, and Adams' lack of defensive versatility means he'd be returning to be a bat off the bench. The Cardinals have plenty of other options for that role.

Though he did contribute a few key hits down the stretch for St. Louis, Adams slashed an underwhelming .158/.200/.333 and posted a .533 OPS in 27 games after the mid-August trade.

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.

St. Louis Cardinals

30 top prospects in the AFL -- 1 from each team

MLB.com

The Arizona Fall League has long been a haven for the best prospects in all of baseball to come together and put the finishing touches on their development on the way to the big leagues. This year is no different, with 15 players from MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list slated to play starting on Tuesday.

Seven clubs are sending their No. 1 prospect to the AFL, and each team is sending an impressive array of up-and-coming talent. Here is a list of the top prospect from each organization that fans can check out in AFL action next week.

The Arizona Fall League has long been a haven for the best prospects in all of baseball to come together and put the finishing touches on their development on the way to the big leagues. This year is no different, with 15 players from MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list slated to play starting on Tuesday.

Seven clubs are sending their No. 1 prospect to the AFL, and each team is sending an impressive array of up-and-coming talent. Here is a list of the top prospect from each organization that fans can check out in AFL action next week.

AL East

Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (TOR No. 1; MLB No. 1)
Guerrero, the top prospect in this year's Fall League, batted .381 with 20 homers, 78 RBIs and more walks (42) than strikeouts (38) at 19 this season while ascending to Triple-A. He'll need to improve his defense at the hot corner to avoid a move down the positional spectrum, but it's a generational-type bat capable of shattering records this fall en route to a 2019 big league debut.

Orioles: Ryan McKenna, CF (BAL No. 12)
McKenna, 21, led all Orioles farmhands in average (.315), OBP (.410), hits (148) and runs scored (95) while splitting his season between Class A Advanced Frederick and Double-A Bowie. The 2015 fourth-rounder swung the bat particularly well in the Florida State League, hitting .377/.467/.556 with 97 hits over 67 games, and impressed with his center-field defense at both stops.

Rays: Lucius Fox, SS (TB No. 9)
The speedster Fox performed well in the Florida State League but scuffled during the final month of the season in Double-A after celebrating his 21st birthday. He ultimately posted a .692 OPS with 29 stolen bases across the two levels. In 2017, Fox finished with a .691 OPS and 30 steals.

Red Sox: Michael Chavis, 3B/1B (BOS No. 1; MLB No. 69)
After Chavis ranked third in the Minors with 68 extra-base hits and fifth with 31 homers last year, he missed the first 80 games of 2018 with a suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance during the offseason. When he returned, he batted .298/.391/.538 (mostly in Double-A) to continue to establish himself as one of the best power-hitting prospects in the game. His strong arm is an asset at third base.

Yankees: Estevan Florial, OF (NYY No. 2; MLB No. 45)
Florial played in Fall League a year ago, batting .286/.383/.414 for the Scottsdale