This Tuesday saw one of the most interesting events in recent history play out as if conducting business as usual. Everyone sat down, turned on their television sets. America watched as special electors cast their ballots for men to occupy positions of ultimate public esteem.
At night’s end those men came away with the 2020 Gold Glove awards, and never was there a more needed distraction with such lauded distinction.
For the Cardinals, now- free agent Kolten Wong came away with his second consecutive Gold Glove. That award will aid Wong in the free agent market this winter, placing him in an elite defensive category of free agent second basemen.
In the outfield, third-year man Tyler O’Neill came away with the Gold Glove for National League left fielders. The beefy Canadian led all nominees at the position with nine defensive runs saved, even without recording an outfield assist.
Both awards came as little surprise to the Cardinal faithful, with Wong’s superior defense setting the tone for most of the season.
Certainly the second baseman’s work up the middle reads like a good spy novel. Wong’s game is filled with intrigue, intense moments of action and a palpable sense of coolness that fills his opponents with dread. His defense is worth the price of socially-distant admission, full stop.
Kolten Wong's journey to a 2019 Gold Glove begins here! pic.twitter.com/ust6e8ZftM
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 20, 2019
MLB Trade Rumors reports that Wong has been in contact with at least six different teams regarding a contract for next season. It remains unclear whether the Cardinals are in that mix.
Veteran free agents Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright likewise weigh on the Cardinals’ minds. The pair are seemingly inseparable. They have started more than 270 games together over the course of their careers. That’s enough for sixth best in MLB history for these battery-mates. Now, they’re both free agents at the same time.
Advantages for retaining both players next year have already been documented. But perhaps the better question becomes what St. Louis does should they choose only one of these men. Is Wainwright’s vintage stuff on the mound too invaluable to let go? How can the Cardinals get by without Molina’s resolute presence on the field?
Of the pair, Molina will have the harder uphill battle in negotiating a contract. Preliminary reports indicate the catcher wants a two-year deal, likely taking Molina to the end of his laudable career. Under his previous contract Molina earned $20 million per season, which the Cardinals will argue is likely too steep to accommodate. After all, St. Louis declined Wong’s $12 million option. Who’s to say something similar couldn’t happen with Molina’s steeper asking price?
Wainwright, meanwhile, sign one-year deals for his past two seasons. Incentive-heavy contracts no doubt motivated the right-hander to turn in such superb levels of production. Would Wainwright perform to this level again without his familiar catcher? Molina might be counting on his absence becoming a bigger bargaining chip than his salary ask.
All these questions remain unanswered. The Cardinals alone are tasked with answering them this offseason.
Featured Image Courtesy of Justin Berl & Getty Images
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