About a month back, I wrote about why the Cardinals won’t sign Bryce Harper You can check that out here. However, there are reasons to think they will actually go get the superstar right fielder, and if they’re serious about competing, they will.
They Need A Superstar
The most obvious reason the Cardinals will sign Harper is because they desperately need a superstar player. They’ve been without such a star since Albert Pujols left back in 2011. Coincidentally, they haven’t won the World Series since then, either.
The Redbirds have had some good seasons since 2011, but no one player has been consistently great. In 2012 and ’13 Carlos Beltran had All-Star seasons in the middle of the lineup, hitting 56 homers between the two seasons.
After Beltran left, the Redbirds still had Matt Holliday, who finished 14th in the MVP voting in 2014. He wasn’t as effective over the next two seasons, though, due to injuries.
In 2015 there was Jason Heyward, who the Cards were forced to pick up after the tragic death of Oscar Taveras. That season, Heyward finished 15th in the MVP voting, but even he only hit 13 home runs with a .797 OPS. Matt Carpenter also finished in the top 15 in MVP voting that year, but that was his best year until this past season.
The Cards had almost no one in 2016 and 2017, which is in large part why they missed the postseason both seasons. This last year Matt Carpenter hit 36 homers, but did most of his damage during the middle two months and faded towards the end of the season, again leading to a missed postseason.
They Have the Money
John Mozeliak hasn’t been prone to spending a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean the Cardinals don’t have it to spend — especially for a player of Harper’s caliber.
The only player they have signed past 2021 is Paul DeJong, and he’s on a friendly deal. They will have several players hitting arbitration around that time, but that shouldn’t handicap them. Also, they will be paying Matt Holliday two million dollars a year through 2029, but again, that’s not a handcuffing amount.
Of all the teams in baseball the Cardinals ranked seventh in team revenue at $319 million for 2018, according to Forbes. That’s six percent higher than in 2017, and the number will be even higher next season. Oh, and the Fox Sports Midwest $1 billion television contract kicked in this past season.
Stanton’s Contract Didn’t Scare Them
Last offseason the big target for St. Louis was Giancarlo Stanton. At the time, it seemed like his huge contract might be a problem for the Redbirds, but they went for him anyway. The Cardinals put together a trade package good enough for the Marlins, but Stanton chose to go to the Yankees instead.
Stanton’s remaining contract at the time was 10 years and $295 million with a player option for 2020, though he likely won’t take it, being that he’ll be 30 years old with $218 million left on the table.
Harper will obviously cost more than that, after reportedly turning down 10 years and $300 million from the Nationals. However, he’s only 26 years old and he’s a much more valuable payer than Stanton at this point in their careers.
Players Like Harper Aren’t Available Very Often
Finally, the Cardinals will sign Harper because he’s a once-in-a-generation type talent, and when a player like him becomes available, a capable team has to make an offer.
Not only do players like Harper not come around often, they also don’t always hit free agency. Take Mike Trout for example. It’s even more rare that they hit free agency before hitting their prime years. Being that he is just 26 makes Harper that much more valuable, and gives the Cardinals that much more reason to send whatever it takes to bring him to St. Louis.
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