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I keep hearing Carlos Gonzalez popping up as a possible trade option with the Rockies. Wouldn't Charlie Blackmon be a better fit? He may not offer the same power, but he's a legitimate center fielder who bats left-handed, has some pop and can steal bases.
-- Brian R., Springfield, Mo.
In terms of control, Gonzalez is under contract for $37 million over the next two seasons, while Blackmon is entering the first of his three arbitration-eligible years. That makes him one year further away from free agency and considerably less expensive than Gonzalez. But I think you could make compelling arguments about the fits of either player. Gonzalez is an elite offensive talent with tremendous power potential. Blackmon would offer an element of speed and a nice power profile for a center fielder.
It's all irrelevant, however, unless the Rockies' asking price can be met, and from what I've gathered in talking to folks with knowledge of Colorado's requests, that club is seeking pitching. The Cardinals, whose pitching depth has been thinned by trades made over the past two years, don't necessarily have much to part with. That decreases the likelihood of a match.
Do you have an update on Carlos Martinez's health? How can the Cardinals not be anticipating this injury flaring up, possibly as early as Spring Training?
-- Dylan M., St. Charles, Mo.
I've asked the organization for an update on Martinez a handful of times this offseason and received the same response each time -- that his recovery is going well and that he should be uninhibited by the start of Spring Training. Martinez is spending most of his offseason in Jupiter, Fla., where his workouts and rehab are being supervised by a Cardinals staff member. The Cardinals are cognizant of the possibility for a recurrence, but believe the time off should alleviate the issue, which, fortunately, was not structural.
In the past, the Cardinals have had no trouble selling players on the team and town by allowing them to experience playing here. With folks like Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward, John Lackey, etc., now leaving, how does that change the approach of the organization, if at all? Is the cachet of playing for the Cardinals still a draw?
-- Tommy P., Lake St. Louis, Mo.
You're right. The Cardinals have had past success in bringing players in (either via trade or a short-term deal) and then getting them to sign long term. Think Matt Holliday, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Chris Carpenter. However, it's not a perfect method. Sometimes it's something as simple as dollars that lead players elsewhere. Pujols, for instance, followed the money. Other times, it's the allure of another situation, something the Cubs were able to sell to both Lackey and Heyward. The reality is that other organizations also have their own sales pitches, many of which rival that of the Cardinals.
So will the Cardinals change their approach? I doubt it. They still believe that, in some cases, they can best sell their product through experience, and that's particularly important for an organization that has not recently done well in free agency.
What happens to compensatory Draft picks if a team signs two free agents who were made qualifying offers? In the case of the Cubs, I understand that their first-round Draft pick goes to the Cards for signing Lackey, but then how can they give up another first-round pick for signing Heyward?
-- Mikey T., Laramie, Wyo.
The Cubs, in signing a pair of free agents who declined qualifying offers, will lose both their first- and second-round Draft picks in 2016. To clarify, though, those picks do not go directly to the Cardinals. They essentially just disappear, meaning that every pick behind them moves up a slot. Where the Cardinals do benefit is in gaining a pair of compensation-round picks for the departures of those two players. Those selections will come between the Draft's first and second rounds.
What's the latest on Holliday's first-base workouts?
-- Jamie Y., Springfield, Ill.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported -- citing "spies" as his source -- last week that Holliday has been working out at first base in Florida this winter. The report suggested this was work that Holliday initiated, not a request by the Cardinals. While first base could be a defensive destination for Holliday later in his career, I just don't see it being a fit in 2016. The Cardinals already have three players -- Brandon Moss, Matt Adams and Stephen Piscotty -- who can cover the position. Even if the Cardinals were to add another outfielder this winter, I don't foresee them moving Holliday to first base. They would use the flexibility Piscotty and Moss provide to fill that position.
How do you think the bullpen will take shape? Any news on Jordan Walden, or about bringing Matt Belisle back?
-- Michael L., Grand Rapids, Mich.
General manager John Mozeliak acknowledged continuing to scour the relief market for another potential add this offseason. As it stands now, the Cardinals do expect Walden to recover from the arm issue that plagued him in 2015. He'll join Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Jonathan Broxton to cover late innings. The club could easily find another left-handed option by sliding Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney or Marco Gonzales into a relief role as well.
Belisle, who told me recently that his recovery from postseason elbow surgery is going well, is probably not a fit to return to St. Louis. Carlos Villanueva would be a more likely target if the Cardinals were to court one of their free-agent relievers.