It’s widely known that the Cardinals have recently acquired a surplus of utility players. Mark Ellis, Dan Descalso and Pete Kozma were all vying for 2 roster spots before the team signed Aledmys Diaz. Diaz is guaranteed to start the season in the minors, so that leaves the other 3. Ellis is safe, since he’s the insurance for Kolten Wong and making starter money. That leaves Descalso and Kozma.
Descalso makes over $1M while Kozma will be substantially less. The key factor though is the fact that Kozma has an option remaining and can be sent to the minors. But that might not be happening.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is reporting that the Cardinals have put Kozma’s name out on the trade market.
Kozma joins Nick Franklin of the Mariners, Didi Gregorius of the Diamondbacks, and free agent Stephen Drew on the shortstop market; Brad Miller of the Mariners and Chris Owings of the Diamondbacks appear to have won those position battles. Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies could be available due to conflicts with manager Ryne Sandberg.
The Tigers are the most recent team checking on shortstops; they lost starter Jose Iglesias to stress fractures in both shins. They have some in-house options, but are looking outside of the organization as well.
The Mets have been back and forth on their shortstop situation; they have Ruben Tejada penciled in to start, but he struggled last season. The Mets have said they are confident using him, but they are continually tied to available shortstops. They have been the team most often tied to Drew.
The Cardinals are in an interesting position here.
Kozma, due to his subpar bat, would cost less than Franklin and Gregorius; the Mets have said they won’t part with top prospect Noah Syndergaard to acquire either player. He’s also not tied to draft pick compensation like Drew. His glove is probably the best available also. He’s also not likely to block anyone at the MLB level, something which the Tigers don’t want with Iglesias being their future at the position.
The main drawback for the Cardinals is they won’t get much in return; at this point, anything is better than nothing. The Mets need an offensive upgrade at the position and Kozma won’t provide that. The Tigers might settle for a defensive minded shortstop, but Gregorius provides a little more with the bat while being close in defense.
This would also leave Descalso as the only back up shortstop on the roster; as already mentioned, Diaz will need time in the minors before he’s ready and Ellis shouldn’t be counted on to play the position. Descalso is a below-average defender and hitter, so this could hurt the team in the long run.
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