Whether they make the postseason or not, the St. Louis Cardinals will focus on improving their defense in the offseason, although that might include positional changes and not just adding players to help out in avoiding runs.
General manager John Mozeliak admits the Cardinals fielding has been a source of problem this season. Their UZR is 25th in the majors, and it’s not just their pitching declining from last season (posting a 4.12 ERA, 14th in the majors).
The problem with improving a team’s defense is the cost: Not financial, but often taking away runs. The Cardinals are 6th in the majors this season with 754 runs so far, and they’re 4th in slugging. Despite the injuries, their positional shifts focused on keeping their best bats in the lineup, which helped put the ball out of the park and generate offense, but has caused defensive problems that might keep them out of the postseason, currently battling to keep their playoff streak alive, 3rd in the wild card standings behind the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.
Jhonny Peralta is an example of a positional shift that didn’t work, posting some very poor defensive numbers after moving to third base. Kolten Wong and Jedd Gyorko did better both pleasantly surprised, especially Gyorko, who handled a versatile role rather well.
The infield is probably set for the Cardinals heading into next season, but the outfield might undergo some changes. Matt Holliday might not return. Even if he is coming back for another season, the Cardinals might look to add a defensively proficient outfielder. Of course, there’s always the option of signing a center fielder while moving Randal Grichuk to the corner. Losing Jason Heyward to the Chicago Cubs was difficult to overcome.