With everybody and their mother writing about Giancarlo Stanton and his future, I'd like to take a left turn and look at other players the St Louis Cardinals could be looking at to improve their roster. As far as I am concerned, Stanton can't pitch, and the Cardinals need help there. Allow me to introduce you to a guy named Alex Colome, closer for the Tampa Bay Rays who is reportedly on the trade block this winter.
Outside of the hardcore baseball fan, one may not know who this 28 year old is, so let me tell you a few things about him.
- He got a late start in the Majors. Colome burst onto the scene at the age of 24 years of age with Tampa Bay, starting against Miami on May 30, 2013.
- Colome is a converted starter. Like Juan Nicasio, Colome didn't become a full bullpen hand until his career was a few years old. He started 13 games in 2015 before moving into the pen.
- His fielding independent pitching career mark of 3.49 means he can get batters out without the need of his defense, which is good for St. Louis.
- The man can close, but he's not perfect. He has converted 84 saves over the past two years with 129 strikeouts to just 38 walks. He blew nine saves between the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
- Colome is arbitration eligible in 2018, giving a trade partner like the Cardinals three years of control before he reaches free agency.
- Hitters can't take him deep. Colome only allowed four home runs in 66.2 innings last season.
- He is equally tough on righthanded and lefthanded batters. Colome held RHB to a .236 batting average in 2016 and LHB to a .227 batting average. He isn't a specialist, which would be a solid add to the bullpen.
- He gets nastier as the year goes on. Colome's 2.29 ERA in the second half of the season for his career easily tromps the 3.64 first half average, and his strikeouts to walks ratio jumps from 1.97 to 5.58 in the second half. He can close the season fairly well.
Colome isn't all the Cardinals need for the bullpen to be right again, but he'd be a great start. The Cardinals could retain Nicasio and set these two up to slam the door late in games. Opposing teams wouldn't like a Nicasio-Colome dessert at all. Closing games was a problem for the Cardinals in 2016, especially after the loss of Trevor Rosenthal. With Rosie out (and unsigned) for the 2018 season, the Cards need a replacement-and a good one. Colome would give them assurance without the long term contract demands that Wade Davis and Greg Holland would require.
What would he cost? This is where it gets tricky, and I hate hypothetical trade packaging. For a closer who led the majors in saves last year with three years of control, the Rays would want at least two players with control and possibly a vet. The Cards could provide the Rays with one of Dakota Hudson or Austin Gomber as well as Sandy Alcantara. They could also throw in a Jedd Gyorko as a sweetener. Alcantara could step in and close, and Gyorko could help a Rays infield with needs. Young gun Jose Alvarado made his debut for Tampa Bay last summer, so he could possibly step in.
The Rays have finished in third place or worse the past three years, totaling 228 wins over that time. They are looking to rebuild, so giving Colome a significant raise may not be in the Cards, especially as the closer approaches 30 years of age.
Colome could help the Birds right away in the ninth, and while it could be costly, acquiring him would go a long way with sealing up the issues in the late innings for the Birds. As good as Nicasio is, he need a friend, and Colome fits the bill.