Hindsight is 2020 in 2020: The Cost of Uncertainty


In the offseason between the 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons, the St. Louis Cardinals made three trades of outfielders. They traded Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics for two prospects, Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock; they traded Randal Grichuk to the Toronto Blue Jays for reliever Dominic Leone and prospect Conner Greene; and lastly they traded prospects Mags Sierra, Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, and Daniel Castano for Marcell Ozuna.


At the time of the trades, I was very much against these moves in conjunction with one another. One of the main reasons is that these are the three's OPS, OPS+, and wRC+ at the time of the trade:


Player A: .786, 115, 112

Player B: .785, 107, 105

Player C: .784, 109, 112


Player B was clearly the best defender of the bunch, however.


Since then, we have a bit more clarity on the after-effects of that series of trades. You see, in hindsight it's much easier to be a judge of trades. Something that the Cardinals', Athletics', Marlins', and Blue Jays' brass did not have at the time was hindsight. They were all gambling on their move being the right one for them. I did not believe the Cardinals had made the right decision.


My contention was that Marcell Ozuna was what we already had, basically, and that while we gave up two outfielders of that caliber, we only got one back AND that we paid a higher price in prospects than what we got returned to us.


Let's take a 20-20 hindsight look at these deals. From a purely Cardinals' standpoint, here is what we will look at:


Cardinals received:

Marcell Ozuna

Yairo Munoz

Dominic Leone

Max Schrock

Conner Greene


Cardinals gave up:

Stephen Piscotty

Randal Grichuk

Sandy Alcantara

Zac Gallen

Mags Sierra

Daniel Castano

For the first part of this, let's see how those players have fared since then. The first comparison is of the three outfielders:


Marcell Ozuna 2018-19

278 games, 1,177 PA

.262/.327/.451/.777 - 108 wRC+

39 doubles, 3 triples, 52 homers - .188 ISO

149 runs, 177 RBI (batted 330 times with RISP)

15 SB, 2 CS, -9 OAA

Randal Grichuk 2018-19

267 games, 1,090 PA

.238/.289/.476/.765 - 101 wRC+

61 doubles, 6 triples, 56 homers - .239 ISO

135 runs, 141 RBI (batted 281 times with RISP)

5 SB, 3 CS, + 13 OAA

2020 stats not yet included


Stephen Piscotty 2018-19

243 games, 998 PA

.260/.322/.460/.782 - 113 wRC+

58 doubles, 1 triple, 40 homers - .199 ISO

124 runs, 132 RBI (batted 227 times with RISP)

4 SB, 0 CS, +0 OAA

2020-2023 stats not yet included

It can be argued that Piscotty is the best of the bunch and that Ozuna is the best of the bunch. Grichuk isn't offensively for sure - except for the power factor - as his has clearly been the largest. He's still been the better defender, as he was player B at the beginning (while Ozuna was A and Piscotty was C).


What can easily be said is that Ozuna was not clearly the best player above. He did not give the Cardinals more of a chance to win in 2018 and 2019 than had the Cardinals' stood pat in that 2017-2018 offseason.


What we also know to be true is that the Cardinals would still have cost control of Grichuk (even without his extension)through the 2020 season and would have control of Piscotty through the 2023 season. They do not any longer have any control over Marcell Ozuna. They allowed him to leave in FA, not wanting to match even a one year offer for $200k more than the qualifying offer.

The next portion of the deal to look at is the other pieces that went each direction. Coming in



Yairo Munoz 2018-19

184 games, 510 PA

.273/.331/.391/.723 - 95 wRC+

23 doubles, 1 triple, 10 homers - .118 ISO

59 runs, 55 RBI (batted 125 times with RISP)

13 SB, 9 CS, -15 OAA

2020-2024 stats not yet included




Dominic Leone 2018-19

64 2/3 IP

5.15 ERA, 4.77 FIP, .328 wOBAa

25.2 K%, 10.5 BB%, 1.48 WHIP

27.1% LD rate, 45.6% hard hit rate

Mags Sierra 2018-19

65 games, 198 PA

.225/.256/.257/.513 - 39 wRC+

4 doubles, 1 triple, 0 homers, .032 ISO

15 runs, 8 RBI (batted 42 times with RISP)

6 SB, 5 CS, -1 OAA


2020-2025 stats not yet included




Sandy Alcantara 2018-19

231 1/3 IP

3.82 ERA, 4.58 FIP, .309 wOBAa

18.4 K%, 10.6 BB%, 1.33 WHIP

19.0% LD rate, 34.7% hard hit rate


2020-2024 stats not yet included



Zac Gallen 2018-19

80 IP

2.81 ERA, 3.61 FIP, .287 wOBAa

28.7 K%, 10.8 BB%, 1.23 WHIP

23.7% LD rate, 39.9% hard hit rate


2020-2025 stats not yet included


Dominic Leone was a complete bust as a Cardinal. He is no longer in the organization. Conner Greene was a complete bust as a prospect that (as far as I can tell) is now completely out of professional baseball (I could be wrong).


Mags Sierra is still in the Marlins' system. While he has been a complete bust so far, there is potential there to give the Marlins some value as he's cost controlled through at least 2025.


Those three are basically a push.


That means now we're down to comparing Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock to Zac Gallen, Sandy Alcantara, and Daniel Castano.


Yairo Munoz (despite his hot start to the spring), I think is a complete bust. I really don't believe in him at all. His stats put him as a terrible defender and a slightly below league average bat. As he is a Cardinal, I hope completely that I am incorrect in that assessment and that he laughs his way to the LF job hitting .300/.350/.500 or so like Edman lsat year. I don't see it.


Max Schrock was already in AAA at the time of the trade and has been unable to make it to the majors in multiple seasons at Memphis, but perhaps more telling is that he has failed to make it on to the 40-man roster, being passed up by multiple other players in the process. (He's had a 63 and an 89 wRC+ in AAA Memphis.)


Meanwhile, Daniel Castano has made his way from rookie ball to A ball (50 innings) to High A ball (109 innings) to AA ball 86 innings in the last two years. He has an overall 3.72 ERA over those 254 IP the last two years at the minor league levels listed and a 4.31 K:BB and 1.26 WHIP.


Sandy Alcantara was the Marlins' lone All-Star last year, as a starting pitcher in the majors.


AND


Zac Gallen (as I projected at the time) has easily been the best of the bunch in the short amount of time he's been in the majors.


This series of trades is a clear loss at this point for the Cardinals, as they only have Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock remaining in their system and only Yairo Munoz on their 40-man and seemingly even potentially in their future plans in the organization; whereas Zac Gallen and Sandy Alcantara will be feature pieces of two rotations in the National League this year and for the next 5-6 years each.