OK Lance Lynn, go ahead and say “I told you so."
Turns out the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander was correct in his belief that he would not be traded, as the MLB non-waiver deadline came and passed with him remaining on the roster.
“One of the things that I did say to Lance Lynn, back when I met with him back in Chicago, is that there is a very good chance you stay with us because we’re not going to just sell low,” said President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “There was never anything compelling to us that we thought made sense to just move him to move him.”
The subject of trade rumors for weeks, there was some thought Lynn would become a top commodity after the likes of Sonny Gray was dealt. But that wasn’t the case.
“Momentum did not ever seem to go from a quiet point to a much more active point,” shared Mozeliak. “There were definitely some teams that were in discussion with him, but never to the point where we felt it was a smart move. If we did, we would’ve traded him.”
So with Lynn eligible to become a free agent after this season, but not being dealt, could this signal talk of a contract extension?
“Mid-season deals or talking about extensions, these are things that at this point I think we’ll just table all of that till year end,” answered Mozeliak. “The good news is, he has some stability or at least he knows where he’ll be and we expect him to be a positive contributor moving forward.”
Lance Lynn was not the only player to remain in St. Louis, the whole roster remains intact as the team was unable to complete any deals.
“It’s always hard to say how close you are,” said Mozeliak. “We certainly were in discussions on a lot of different topics. I think a lot was made are we buyers or sellers, and we approached the last week as trying to find ways to not only see if we could improve the club this year with a focus on ‘18 and ‘19. As today unfolded, unfortunately, we just were never able to get anything across the finish line.”
And it wasn’t a case of the Cardinals just looking to move Lynn or break open the log-jam of outfielders in the organization.
“We approached it as we were open to any ideas,” said Mozeliak. “We talked about what it might look like to move a player and we also looked at what it would be to add players. Again, it wasn’t that we were driven to do one or the other, we just could never find a trading partner on either side of those.
“I would say in a broad sense, we definitely had trial balloons going up on all fronts — small deals, large deals, complicated deals, simple deals. We just weren’t able to get something where we felt comfortable hitting the go button, or perhaps the other side as well, for that matter.”
So is there a disappointment in being unable to put a deal together?
“There was certainly a level of frustration in the room on trying to do some things, but we also didn’t want to do something that in the long term we may regret just to say we did a deal,” said Mozeliak. “There’s no doubt, I’ve been pretty outspoken on trying to find ways to shake things up a little bit. Of course, you can do that internally with the ability to use your entire 40-man roster or you could’ve gone externally or we could have moved some players that we felt maybe we won’t be signing at the end of the season–or potentially may not sign.”
Now the Cardinals will explore waiver deals and Mozeliak acknowledged that team has room in the budget to absorb more salary if necessary to make such a move. However, getting desired players through waivers to make such a deal is often more difficult than working something out before the deadline.
“Look, we haven’t run from the fact that we mentioned or talked about adding an additional bat to the lineup, but we were just unable to find a partner that was willing to do that,” said Mozeliak. “And therefore, that was not a realistic opportunity.”
“And we talked a little bit about, over the last week and half, perhaps looking at the bullpen as something we could add to. Clearly, we could have picked up a reliever but in our minds, on the margins, we are better off trying to see what we have in somebody eventually like Tuivailala so we know exactly what we have. Internally, we had these debates but in the end, we felt like there was nothing compelling enough for us to do to make us change that course.”
While it was not presented as a substitute for making a trade, the Cardinals are also hoping that a healthier roster will finally provide that consistent run which has been lacking this season. Harrison Bader will be optioned back to Memphis as Stephen Piscotty will be activated before tomorrow’s game. Dexter Fowler is progressing. Adam Wainwright was on the field today, although it was not clear if he had indeed thrown his scheduled bullpen.
“You want the players that have been hurt contributing again, I think that is a positive,” said Mozeliak. “I feel like right now, our bullpen is in a better spot with Rosie finishing games. Hopefully, we can get on a run.”
But Mozeliak has also reminded that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. The Cardinals have been optimistic this season before and tried with this same roster to find traction without success.
“Well, I’m hopeful we can get on that run,” said Mozeliak. “In terms of trying to prioritize playing time today, I think we have confidence in having our players that we think can help us play.”
“I mean, I don’t think much is going to happen in our infield. Our infield is pretty much in a steady state with Carp, Wong, DeJong, and Gyorko. And the outfield, when you get Fowler back, that will be where you have four guys competing for three spots.”
So whether they are veterans or rookies or even September call-ups, Mozeliak made it clear that he wants players with the opportunity to take a step forward.
“In a lot of ways, we’ll just use the next two months to evaluate what we think we really need to do for ‘18.”