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Inbox: Will Jose Martinez be a Cardinal in 2019?

Beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers fans' questions
January 25, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Thanks, as always, to those who submitted questions for this week's Cardinals Inbox. While there remains interest in the Hot Stove period, much of the attention has already begun to turn toward the 2019 season. So we will dedicate most of this Inbox to those topics.What are

ST. LOUIS -- Thanks, as always, to those who submitted questions for this week's Cardinals Inbox. While there remains interest in the Hot Stove period, much of the attention has already begun to turn toward the 2019 season. So we will dedicate most of this Inbox to those topics.
What are the chances that Jose Martinez is on the Opening Day roster?
-- @MikolasSZN

Chances are increasing by the day. The Cardinals have cooled on the idea of trading Martinez, mostly because they haven't found interested teams willing to give up enough in a deal. There's also increasing concern about Marcell Ozuna's health, and that augments the importance of having Martinez on the roster as a backup outfielder. Manager Mike Shildt also emphasized that he likes the idea of starting Martinez regularly against left-handed starters, whether that be in right or left field.
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Are the Birds pursuing Bryce Harper? Were they ever?
-- Mitchell G. (@MitchGregson)

The Cardinals are not currently in the mix for Harper, nor have they been serious pursuers of the right fielder. They are committed to William Fowler and confident in their backup options. Furthermore, the organization is wary of the idea of giving out a 10-year contract, even to a 26-year-old star. We could certainly debate the merits of that stance, but that won't change the way in which the Cards intend to operate.
Any chance Jedd Gyorko sees some outfield time if needed?
-- Levi B. (@L_Brug92)

The opportunities for Gyorko to get exposure in the outfield are likely to be limited since the Cardinals already have ample backup options in Martinez, Tyler O'Neill, Yairo Munoz and Drew Robinson. That said, Gyorko has told the organization that he is willing to bring an extra glove to camp so that he can receive some reps in the outfield. There's no harm in getting him some exposure, as there's always the possibility that he could be called upon in a pinch.
Assuming health for Alex Reyes, could he potentially be in the National League Rookie of the Year Award race?
-- Eric M. (@emorlock15)

Sure; why not? Back in 2017, Reyes was considered one of the favorites in that race. Since he's thrown only four Major League innings since then, he remains eligible to win the Award. You don't hear Reyes' name mentioned among the top prospects in the game mostly because of the looming uncertainty surrounding his return from two arm surgeries.

That said, Reyes remains one of the most electric young arms in the game, and he could rebound in an impactful way. One thing to consider, however, as you set the odds on Reyes' Rookie of the Year chances is his role. It'll be harder for him to distinguish himself in that race if he's pitching out the 'pen, which is a real possibility.
Is Jordan Hicks being seriously considered as the Cardinals' closer of the future, or are the Cards still looking for a strong arm in the bullpen?
-- @BaseballShack

Yes and yes. Hicks is being considered as a closer candidate for the present and the future. And the Cardinals haven't ruled out adding another arm to their bullpen before the start of the season. If the Cardinals stand pat, Hicks will get some closing opportunities, as will Andrew Miller. How Shildt deploys the two will largely depend on when he needs Miller. Miller is projected to be the team's top lefty reliever, and the Cards want to maintain some flexibility in how they use him so that he's available to come in earlier in games if the situation necessitates that. But certainly, for the long term, Hicks is positioned as the long-term answer at closer.
Will Shildt consider batting the pitcher in the eight-hole? That would let Harrison Bader bat ninth to give Matt Carpenter more chances to drive in runs.
-- Garrett M. (@garrettjmartin)

This question was asked of Shildt at the Winter Meetings and he dismissed it. Though you can see the logic in wanting to have a position player hit in front of Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt -- especially if that someone is a speedster like Bader -- Shildt seems opposed to moving the pitcher higher in the order to create such a scenario.
My concern is we have no real heir apparent for Yadier Molina. Yes, it is two years away for him, but it is imperative that we know if that replacement is in the organization or if the Cardinals need to go outside the organization.
-- Kevin S. (@sawyersdad17)

First off, it's not imperative to know or have a replacement right now, as Molina has given no indication that he is on the cusp of slowing down. In fact, he recently opened the door to playing beyond his current contract. That said, the Cardinals are always forecasting several years out, and they are aware that Molina won't sustain this workload forever. That heir apparent was Carson Kelly; now it's Andrew Knizner. Knizner has made a rapid rise through the system and projects to be ready as Molina's backup by 2020.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.