Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is a week away, and the Cardinals’ haves and needs are agonizingly clear.
It’s doubtful that John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch will be able to put together a team that will compete for a championship this year, but it would be a good time to shed some of their depth, move a free agent like Lance Lynn, and start to build a better unit than what they have right now.
At the moment, the Cardinals have two leadoff hitters in Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler. They also have a couple of players that fit well at No. 2 in Tommy Pham and Kolten Wong. They don’t appear to have a modern-day middle of the lineup that features slugging and on base percentage. The Cardinals top OPS guys are Carpenter, who we know isn’t a middle of the lineup presence, and Jedd Gyorko…who may fit into the fifth hole, but doesn’t fit the profile of a regular MLB cleanup hitter.
In Yadier Molina, Gyorko and Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals have a large group of sixth place hitters. And in Randal Grichuk, Paul DeJong, Magneuris Sierra and Wong, they have four guys for the seventh and eighth spots in the order.
In a normal Cardinal world, DeJong, Wong, Carpenter, Molina and Fowler are going to be in the lineup. That means the Cardinals can fill their third, fourth and fifth spots in the order at third base and in right and left field. The club gave Piscotty a big contract with the idea that he’d be one of those guys, and it’s doubtful they’ll move him. So they’re looking for a slugging third baseman and left fielder.
The Cardinals also have Lance Lynn approaching free agency with lots of young starters on the horizon. They’d be foolish to not trade him for value.
They need to rebuild their bullpen by finding a closer, not something to take care of by next week.
Sierra isn’t, and shouldn’t go anywhere. So from the 40 man roster, the Cardinals should have Grichuk, Gyorko, Aledmys Diaz, Wong, Lynn and every reliever except Brett Cecil (full no trade protection) available. If there’s value in Matt Bowman, the Cardinals should consider moving him. And if there’s a team out there that’s interested in Pham, it would be a time to sell high.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals are working in a market that’s favorable to those buying bats, so if they’re going to deal a position player, it seems it’s going to have to be as part of a package deal.
To me, the smart move is to utilize that buyer’s market to get a bat now. If they can get two that can be utilized next year, all the better. However, the Marlins said over the weekend that they aren’t going to move any of their outfielders…Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich or Giancarlo Stanton…until a sale of the team is completed. And Miami based Craig Mish of Sirius/XM MLB Radio tweeted that Stanton might not want to join the Cardinals, anyway…
As of last week when I first reported the Giants & Cardinals contact on Stanton, the team did not believe he would accept a deal to STL.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) July 23, 2017
The Orioles say they not only aren’t listening on Manny Machado (more on that here), but they’re trying to buy arms, and teams like the Royals and Rangers feel like they have playoff shots.
So that leaves, if logic prevails, the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson and the A’s Khris Davis as potential targets for Mozeliak and Girsch.
Donaldson is a former MVP who’s a free agent after 2018. This year he’s hitting only .238 with nine homers and an OPS of .779. Toronto’s top prospect is third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and they don’t have a young outfielder, in the majors or minors, that hits for power.
Blue Jays left fielders are tenth in slugging and OPS, and their right fielders are tenth in slugging and eleventh in OPS. The Jays also have a couple of starting pitchers, Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano, coming off the books as free agents after this season. Perhaps the Cardinals are a match with some combination from among Grichuk, Pham, Gyorko, Wong and a young starting pitcher.
The A’s are again abysmal, and their President of Baseball Operations, Billy Beane, has gone on record as saying he wants to tear all the way down and rebuild. So he’s looking strictly for propects for a hitter like Davis.
Apparently there isn’t much of a market for 31 year old Cincinnati All Star shortstop Zach Cozart. He’s a plus defender who has had his best offensive season. If the Cardinals have any questions about Paul DeJong’s future as a shortstop, and the price is right, they might as well take a flyer on a guy like Cozart.
In my opinion, the likelihood of something big happening is low.
I don’t think the Cardinals’ position players possess a great deal of market value, and they don’t really like the idea of trading their highly regarded young pitchers. But this is the time of year to talk, and if the Cardinals can get a good deal on a player than can solve problems for next year’s team, they should go for it.