5 things to know about Corey Seager, a potential shortstop option for the Cardinals


Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports

Dan Buffa, Special to the Jewish Light

With the World Series finished and the player options having been exercised or declined by teams, the time has come for free agents to run amok in the Major League Baseball Hot Stove landscape. For the St. Louis Cardinals, their sights will be set on a few different areas for improvement, but the shortstop position can’t be ignored.

Will it be expensive? Yes. Would it be worth it? In most cases, yes indeed. Now, we have already covered a few of them in this corner of cyberspace, including Marcus Semien and Carlos Correa. But who is the true shortstop for this team, especially when you look at fit and potency? It doesn’t get much better than Corey Seager, but is he worth the commitment?

The (former?) Los Angeles Dodgers middle infielder will hit the market as the most prized free agent acquisition of the offseason: a hitter in his prime who is also capable in the postseason. Let’s look a little deeper at a few of those attributes that make Seager a lucrative option for the Cardinals.


He’s a left-handed slugger


With the official departure of Matt Carpenter and the current stock of hitters on the roster, the team is in true need of some southpaw-swinging action. The middle of the lineup could benefit from a lefty like Seager giving opposing managers headaches late in games when matchups are everything and suitable options in the bullpen run low. Placing Seager in the middle of Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, and Nolan Arenado would stretch the lineup in a productive way.


Seager is only 27 years old

If Bill DeWitt Jr. is going to fork out big cash for another player while giving a long term as well, the player can’t be sniffing too close to 40 years of age. Seager will turn 28 in April, so the age matches up nicely to a four-to-six-year deal that would solidify the middle infield for a half-decade. By the time he reaches his mid-30’s, the Cards could be looking to a different shortstop, or perhaps extend Seager further. His age meets the criteria for a big signing.


He’s a late postseason threat

Imagine if Seager gets an at-bat or two FOR the Cardinals instead of against them in last month’s wildcard game against the Dodgers. Is the outcome different? Do the Cardinals catch fire after that win and eventually challenge the Atlanta Braves, who they held their own against in the regular season? Seager deepens the lineup, and that includes July and October. Late October is Seager’s specialty. In three National League Championship series (spanning 19 games), he has slugged .581.

But in 13 World Series games, including 47 at-bats, the shortstop has slashed .298/.414/.511. Basically, he’s getting a hit nearly 30% of the time, reaching base 40% of the time, and slugging the baseball 50% of the time during the most clutch time of the year. He won the NLCS and World Series MVP in 2020, when the Dodgers won it all.


Seager can hit with runners in scoring position

While O’Neill could knock a baseball out of Busch Stadium, he doesn’t fare well with runners in scoring position. Seager solves that problem. In 100 plate appearances last season with runners in scoring position, Seager slashed .338/.440/.513. Moreover, he drew 17 walks compared to 15 strikeouts. When the chips are down, this is a bat you can count on to get a big hit. The Cardinals will need that next year, and just about every year after that.


The defense isn’t remarkable

Seager’s kryptonite is his defense, which isn’t glaringly bad yet won’t win teams many extra games. His career DRS (defensive runs saved) is -5, which isn’t something to shine a light on. He isn’t the guy who will make a Kolten Wong-type snag late in a game to turn the tables; he does that with a bat in his hand. However, a silver lining here is the fact that the Cardinals infield is stuffed with gold glove winners, recent ones too. On Sunday, St. Louis became the first team in MLB history to have five gold glove winners in one season. Three of those shiny awards came from the infield, so Seager won’t be left out in the cold on grounders with Arenado to his right and a human vacuum like Goldschmidt at first base.

Look, the chances of DeWitt Jr. and President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak producing the kind of contract and money that it will take to acquire Seager is remote, even with the working history over the past ten years with his agent, Scott Boras. He will cost over $25 million per season, a financial statement the team isn’t exactly fond of. But in an offseason stacked with shortstop availability, it would be wise for them to consider a hitter like Seager.

He also wouldn’t cost them players in a trade, only money for a hitter with a 131 career OPS+ (100 is average). He hits from the left side with pop, doesn’t strike out a ton, and collects big hits in big moments. Or they can run Paul DeJong and Edmundo Sosa out there and see what happens.