QUESTION: What is the most glaring need for the Cardinals going into the offseason? Is it starting pitching, or is it another hitter or two? I'm thinking Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon (above) should be the Cardinals' top priorities.
BENFRED: I don't know why we should expect the Cardinals to finish first in a race for the top free agents who will be pursued by many. That doesn't happen.
The question marks, and they are big ones, are third base, outfield and rotation. In that order, probably. What the Cardinals do with Carpenter, and to some degree Fowler, will shape a lot of the discussion. There are appealing free-agent starters out there in this upcoming class.
Follow-up: Do you expect the Cardinals to make a run at Rendon or Cole?
BENFRED: A run, maybe. A first-place finish? I don't know why we should expect that. We will get a clearer sense of how the Cardinals view their roster moving forward when they do their end-of-season sitdown with John Mozeliak. Those questions are not going to be answered until the season is over.
Follow-up: Do you think the Nationals extend Rendon? Will seeing him head to St. Louis as a free agent be something Cardinals fans get to dream about?
BENFRED: Runs like the Nationals are on tend to encourage players and teams to keep the band together. Harper walked. Rendon helped push the Nats into a new stratosphere. So, keep him. He doesn't seem like the type that is going to love the free-agency gauntlet.
If the Nats are determined to keep him, and they should be, I think it's safe to predict he winds up staying in DC. Sorry!