ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals addressed the most pressing items on their offseason to-do list in December with the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt and signing of lefty reliever Andrew Miller.But work to improve an 88-win team that finished third in the National League Central in 2018 has not reached a
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals addressed the most pressing items on their offseason to-do list in December with the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt and signing of lefty reliever Andrew Miller.
But work to improve an 88-win team that finished third in the National League Central in 2018 has not reached a wrap. With a new calendar year on the horizon, let's examine five things that the Cardinals still need to accomplish before pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, Fla., during the second week of February.
1. Further enhance the bullpen: The addition of Miller gives the Cardinals a reliever with late-inning experience and someone who should be able to neutralize left-handed hitters better than any reliever the Cards have had in recent years. But after finishing 12th in the National League with a 4.38 ERA last season, one new face may not be sufficient. Since they'd like Miller to maintain some fluidity with his role, the Cards may seek another reliever with setup or closing experience.
2. Add some depth: The Cardinals feel strongly about their eight projected starting position players, but there are enhancements needed around them. With Carson Kelly now in Arizona, the team needs to find another backup catcher. And though the Cardinals recently added utility man Drew Robinson, they could benefit from adding another left-handed-hitting player to compete for a bench job this spring.
3. Weed out roster redundancy: In order to be better balanced offensively, the Cards will have to make some subtractions. They continue to field interest in Jose Martinez, who seems likely to be traded before Spring Training. If the Cards can't get their desired return for Martinez, they could pivot and try to deal someone like Jedd Gyorko. Whatever the path, the Cards have too many right-handed bench players currently on their roster.
4. Answer some health questions: Will Alex Reyes be through his rehab and ready to open Spring Training on schedule? How has Marcell Ozuna's shoulder responded to offseason surgery? Can William Fowler get caught up in his offseason program after giving his foot time to heal? Getting some answers to these and other lingering health questions would help the Cardinals identify any additional needs that may have to be addressed before the start of camp.
5. Decide on Harper: The Cardinals remain on the outside looking in as the Bryce Harper sweepstakes continue to monopolize Hot Stove headlines. Ultimately, though, they'll have to stop straddling a line and jump one way or the other. It seems unlikely, given the commitment to Fowler, but the Cards could sneak into the bidding for Harper late if they want to give themselves another right-field option.
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.