Mountcastle was 10th in the AL in OPS in the 2nd half. That was post vertigo. With the WALL as a RHH. Only Ohtani, Casas, Seager, Tucker, Diaz, Witt, Rodriguez, Bregman, and Devers, had a higher 2nd half OPS. Pretty good company.
Funny, because I would say waiving other CF AAAA depth would mean that there is no reason to keep another backup CF around because McKenna is that guy. I also think Daniel Johnson must look good enough in camp to get rid of Burdick/Hilliard. It’s also interesting that we’ve only lost 4 players off waivers this offseason. Two of those were CF options. I don’t think the world of McKenna, but he’s a good bench option as being RH to a LH Mullins.
LABR's AL only room tonight guessed confidence Ryan O'Hearn's playing time is secure over these two.
An authentic Lowenstein is useful and the young DH/OF guys would be challenged early to outplay it.
But if you feel like it was lightning in a bottle and even Mountcastle as a 1st round pick you happen to have but don't really like is someone you want to invest more in, then....
Only O'Hearn really stands in the way of 1B Mountcastle, DH Kjerstad (or Cowser) playing near enough to everyday. Mountcastle should be getting towards those 10000 hours of practice to be really good at 1B defense, right?
I wouldn't be shocked if a couple years back Elias could send mischievous texts to the Padres like, "we know you have to cut Jorge Mateo, and we're just waiting", and now the circle completes and Colorado or Chicago get to say "we know you have to cut Ryan O'Hearn and Ramon Urias, and we're just waiting (and no they can't be small pieces in your Dylan Cease bid)."
Before Santander departs, the path is really more through the first basemen. DL Hall being in the first big deal Elias actually closed hints to me Mountcastle could be next. Mountcastle trade value in this slow market is constrained by JD Martinez or Brandon Belt hanging around wondering if they'll get jobs. Belt may end up playing for less than the 1/4 Mountcastle will command in Arb1 this year. Carlos Santana made it to ~$5M, a number Arb2 Mountcastle probably blows past for 2025 with a decent season.
An early Mountcastle trade and O'Hearn fade could open a path for 1B Santander, RF Cowser, DH Kjerstad even (or however those 3 best defend those positions, probably something different every day based on the arms, bats, ballpark and weather that day.
I still have hopes Mountcastle becomes a more significant contributor, but while we wait out Mayo and Basallo, Elias' most "My Guys" lineup in early 2024 might be like:
SS Gunnar, C Adley, 1B Santander, LF Hays, DH Kjerstad, CF Mullins, 3B Westburg, RF Cowser, 2B Holliday