Nightengale Doesn’t See Harper in STL; Says Donaldson’s a Likelier Cardinals Target

It’s been established heads will explode across Cardinal Nation if the club doesn’t break out the checkbook this winter, but It’s also well known Bill DeWitt Jr. isn’t super keen on penciling Mega Millions onto said checks.

Which is why many fans are halfway in suspense over this offseason while also not setting their hopes terribly high. They’ve seen this movie before and their favorite team hasn’t gotten the girl for several years now, instead acquiring mostly bit-players. One could argue this is a big reason (along with bad defense) they haven’t played October baseball since 2015. The NL Central isn’t bad.

Everyone knows this particular winter’s marquee names by now — Manny Machado and Bryce Harper — and Harper’s is one many local fans and media covet, but it almost seems like a pipe-dream considering how the Cards traditionally do business.

There are also other teams hopeful for Harper’s services, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale believes he’ll wind up at one of these.

“I’m gonna go Philadelphia Phillies, but I don’t rule out the San Francisco Giants,” Nightengale told ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show’ Tuesday. I think only three teams are involved in him; I think it’s only the Washington Nationals, Phillies and Giants. I don’t see any other team that’s going to give him $300 million,” he added. “I’ll go Phillies slightly over the Giants, and I don’t discount the Giants.”

The Cardinals will likely look into Harper, but Nightengale may be correct they don’t want to dish out  over $300 million for years to come. And while Josh Donaldson isn’t necessarily a ‘bit-player,’ he’s also not the ‘Face of the Franchise’ player bantered about that the Cards currently miss.

But that’s the route Nightengale sees the Cards heading, for both financial and defensive reasons.

“I expect them to go after maybe Josh Donaldson. I don’t see them going after Manny Machado or (Bryce) Harper, but I do think they’ll try and get a Donaldson (and) shore up that defense at third base,” he said.

“You talk to scouts around baseball; they say it’s the worst Cardinals defensive team they’ve seen in 50 years. Just ugly to watch,” he added. “They’re joking around that Miles Mikolas should have won the Cy Young if not for a defense like that behind him. It was just tough to watch.”

You can hear all of Nightengale’s ‘Bernie Show’ segment below, in which the scribe also handicaps this year’s Red Sox-Dodgers World Series.

Stay connected with 101 ESPN for plenty more Cardinals hot stove talk as the winter rolls in.

More: A Look at the Cardinals’ Options for ‘The Big Bat’ They’ve Been Missing