The St. Louis Cardinals may target players like Alex Gordon and Justin Upton in free agency or Carlos Gonzalez in a trade after Jason Heyward decided to sign with the Chicago Cubs. Heyward signed a $180 million deal with Chicago and that marks the second Cardinals player to sign with the Cubs this offseason after John Lackey also signed.
The Cardinals and Nationals were both in pursuit of Heyward and he opted to sign with the Cubs on an eight year, $184 million contract, according to ESPN and media reports. The deal has two opt outs for Heyward and now puts St. Louis in position to go after other outfielders on the market. According to USA Today, Bob Nightengale reports that the team has their "sights set on" Alex Gordon after missing out on Heyward.
Nightingale writes that the team could "aggressively pursue" Gordon, who also is expected to get interest from the Royals and Giants. Gordon, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes are considered to be the top outfield options left on the free agent market, while players like Denard Span and Dexter Fowler are also available. Gordon played in 104 games last season and posted a .271 batting average, .809 OPS with 13 home runs and 48 RBI for the Royals. Gordon is also considered to be one of the best defensive outfielders in the league.
Gordon will be 32 to start next season and while he is a bit older than Heyward, he likely will come cheaper and is about the same defensively. Buster Olney reports that the San Francisco Giants are considered to be the "frontrunners" for Gordon, but that the Royals and Cardinals are also strong options for the outfielder. The Royals reportedly are "hopeful" that they can sign back Gordon, but there is a chance they could be outbid by other teams.
Upton is one of the top free agents on the market and Jim Bowden at ESPN reports that the Orioles, Giants and Angels could be interested along with the Cardinals. Upton played in 150 games last season and hit 26 home runs with 81 RBIs while batting .251 for the Padres. Chris Davis reportedly was a target for the Cardinals, but the team has cooled on the first baseman, according to Nightengale. Davis had an offer on the table from the Orioles at around seven years and $160 million, but the team confirmed that they have pulled the offer for the time being.
The Cardinals could also consider trade deals to help in the outfield, as the team reportedly has talked with the Rockies about Carlos Gonzalez, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The report says the team has "engaged in trade discussions," but that the team is not close on a deal. The report also says that the team has "explored the cost" of Davis.