Aug 11, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese (23) hits a sacrifice fly off of Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (not pictured) during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The St. Louis Cardinals recently called up their top infield prospect Kolten Wong. Wong is an offensively talented second baseman who put up a .303/.369/.466 slash line at AAA Memphis this season to go along with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Interestingly enough the Cards already have an All Star second baseman in Matt Carpenter who is hitting .313/.378/.478 (wOBA .375) on the season. So it would seem they have an extra infielder somewhere for 2014 and both Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and Viva El Birdos suggest the odd man out is former All Star third baseman David Freese.
Wait a minute…the Marlins need a third baseman for 2014 and have excess prospects in the minor leagues and young major league talent to accommodate a trade. Could Freese be a fit for them?
These are the Marlins we’re talking about so let’s start by taking a look at Freese’s contract situation. The third baseman makes $3.15 million this season and still has two more years of team control left. Not ideal, but the Marlins did pay $2.75 million for Placido Polanco to be back up 3B this season and they did save a bunch by unloading Ricky Nolasco so they might be willing to pick up the contract.
We know Freese was a playoff and World Series hero for the Cards in 2011, but outside of that is he really any good? Let’s start by looking at his career numbers vs. the average National League third baseman during his career (2010 – 2013):
Avg NL 3B
As you can see, Freese has been a well above average 3B for his four major league seasons. His wOBA and wRC+ both rank 8th among NL 3B during his career, just behind future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones. At 30 years old you have to figure Freese would have at least two more productive years which would be the two the Marlins would control. Plus by the time he is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, Marlins 1st round pick Colin Moran should be ready to step in should they decide to let Freese walk.
OK, so he seems to be a pretty good player and would be huge upgrade over the Marlins current 3B situation, but how can they get him to Miami? Interestingly enough, the Cards happen to have two key free agents among their regulars in rightfielder Carlos Beltran and closer Edward Mujica that may need to be replaced. In addition, the Marlins would be in a very good bargaining position with Freese currently having the worst year of his career with a .265/.343/.380 slash line and just 6 home runs on the season.
How about an easy one-for-one deal that helps out both sides: Freese for Steve Cishek. Cishek is arbitration eligible for the first time next season and can be replaced by a Mike Dunn/A.J. Ramos combo or some free agent ex-closer looking to prove himself, which is a Marlins specialty (see Joe Borowski). The Cards get a closer who they control for 3 more years to replace Mujica and the Marlins solidify what is probably their position of greatest need.
What do you think? Should Freese be the Marlins 3B next season?