This offseason, the focus will be mostly on the available free agents coming from outside the organization. Guys like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson will be the center of attention in St. Louis, as they should be. However, the Redbirds have three in-house free agents, excluding Edward Mujica, that they have to either deal with or let walk.
The first on the list is Bud Norris. Norris came over to St. Louis this past offseason on a one year deal worth $3 million. He was coming off a career high in appearances with the Angels and a 19 save season.
The 19 saves were a good indication that the Cardinals would be looking at him as a potential closer for the 2018 season, even after the Greg Holland signing nearly a month later. Then, after Holland’s struggles began, Norris took over the closing role permanently.
He did a nice job for most of the season too. It took 11 saves and two months before his first blown save in early June and he even held a sub three ERA through that time period. He held tough through the rest of June and the first part of July too. Norris finished the first half with a 3-2 record, a 3.05 ERA, 17 saves, two blown saves and a 0.965 WHIP.
Unfortunately, the second half wasn’t as good for Bud. He went 0-4 after the All-Star break, posted a 4.66 ERA, 11 saves in 14 opportunities and a WHIP of 1.810. Had it not been for a run of six straight saves in August, when the Cardinals were playing out of their minds, those numbers would have been even worse.
All in all, Norris had a decent 2018. His performance will definitely garner him looks from other clubs, but the Cards will get the first crack at him. They should look at bringing him back for the right money, though this time not as a candidate for the closing position.
Next up is Matt Adams. The Cardinals reunited with Adams in August, bringing him back from the Nationals for nothing more than agreeing to pay out the remaining $4 million on his contract. The move was a little puzzling, but the Redbirds thought he could provide the left-handed pop they were missing on the bench.
Over the entire 2018 season, Adams hit .239, with a .786 OPS, 21 homers, 57 RBI and an OPS+ of 105. He was pretty much what you would have expected him to be coming into the season, and that’s what the Cards thought they were getting. After the trade, though, he hit even worse than he did before.
In St. Louis, Adams hit for a mere .158 average, .533 OPS, struck out 18 times and hit three home runs. That wasn’t the kind of production Mozeliak was hoping for when he brought him back.
Because of his lack of production in St. Louis this season, along with the fact that the Cardinals don’t need a first baseman, he probably won’t be back next year. Even a cheap short-term contract doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Redbirds here.
Another August addition for the Cardinals this year was Tyson Ross. The Birds claimed him off waivers from the Padres in hopes that he could help in the bullpen and make spot starts when needed.
Overall, Ross had a pretty tough season. He went 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA, 4.39 FIP and a 1.296 WHIP in 31 games, 23 of which were starts.
His numbers in St. Louis told a different story, though. In nine games with the Redbirds, including one start, Ross went 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA, 3.65 FIP and a 1.139 WHIP. He did a nice job out of the bullpen at a time when a good relief arm was really needed in St. Louis.
This season, Ross made $2.7 million. After the season he had, he’ll likely be demanding about the same next year. He probably won’t be looking for a very long contract, either, even at 31 years old.
Depending on how the Cardinals do with the rest of the relief market, it would be worth the money to bring Ross back to fill a middle-innings role and possibly make a couple starts next season.
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