St. Louis Cardinals: Trade Bait
The St. Louis Cardinals, like all other MLB clubs, entered spring training with an over-stuffed roster. One goal of the spring has to be identifying who might be valuable as a trade piece.
St. Louis Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak is a wizard of trades and is an even stronger political response engine when asked about trades. I find any quote from him to be both awe-inspiring in its genius ability to avoid a direct answer and infuriating since fans can rarely read anything of truth in the words that he produces. To that end, fans and press may never know what/if/when a trade is actually coming.
Putting all of that aside, this article will examine the Cardinal players who have appeared this spring whose performance makes them perfect trade bait. Each case will be examined to find if the player has raised his stock as bait thanks to positive performance or lack there of.
Let’s start this examination with the arms we’ve watched in camp.
Hefner joined the Cardinals in December 2015. In his minor league career with nine teams he owns a 3.80 ERA out of the pen. Hefner is returning from Tommy John surgery and has appeared in three spring games thus far (you can read about one of his appearances against the Marlins here).
In those games he has posted two strikeouts across five innings and an ERA of 3.60. While not the strongest of showings, his material could be attractive to a team needing a pen arm. Why bait? His performance doesn’t seem strong enough to stick with the Birds.
This might be a tough pill for some to swallow but I think the Cardinals should seize the opportunity to free themselves of Jaime Garcia. While Garcia posted MVP-like numbers in 2015 (sans any offensive support), 2016 is his walk year if the Cards opt to not pick up his $12MM option for 2017. There may be no better time than now to move him before he shows his best or worst case scenarios.
In spring thus far, Garcia has appeared in two games, striking out five batters across 5.2 innings and suffering one loss. His spring ERA is 4.76 and while spring is tough to predict the impending season, the existence of younger lefties (Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzales) makes a departing Jaime much easier on the team.
Spring is the time for position players to battle vigorously for a spot to break camp with the big boys. That said, many break camp with other teams rather than in the bigs.
Can we all admit that the Garcia experiment has run its course? Even in light of the Jhonny Peralta injury, Greg Garcia’s performance is quickly being eclipsed by Aledmys Diaz. I’m not sold that the team has use of Garcia. In spring this year, Garcia is batting .214 in fourteen appearances at the plate. As a comparison figure, Diaz is batting .300 in twenty appearances.
Defensively, Garcia has appeared at second (1.000 fielding percentage), third (.800 fielding percentage), and short stop (1.000 fielding percentage). Defensively his stats aren’t pitiful which is likely where his trade value is found.
Seems if your name is Jeremy then you may be qualified for trade… Joking aside, Hazelbaker has served the Cardinal organization since May 2015. A career minor leaguer, Hazelbaker was looking at this spring as a way of breaking with a big league club. I’ve watched him in person and am impressed with his abilities (checkout my Memphis roster prediction).
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In spring, Hazelbaker has appeared in five games with eleven at-bats posting a slash line of .300/.364/.400. He’s a solid player who may have greater value to some other team whose outfield might not be as stocked as the Cardinals’ outfield. His youth is a plus, but- it must be admitted- that the Cardinals organization has younger, more powerful outfield bats in the wings that can easily supplant the loss of his youth if he is traded.
To Trade or Not to Trade
The four players listed above have value, yes, but should the Cardinals trade them? Are there others who could have or should have been listed here? What if the answer to each of these questions is yes? Does it matter in the grand scheme? To give a Mozeliak answer, “Right now it would be all hands on deck unless there was an outside solution we would consider” (Ben Berkon, Forbes).
There is always strong talk about trades in the majors so it will certainly be entertaining to watch and see if the Cardinals pull the trigger on a trade and whether any of the four players listed above will be included in any trigger pulling. I’m not sold at this point that the brain trust of the Cardinals will make any trade. But if they do, I strongly recommend these four players as bait.
Next: David Freese Returns to the NL Central
What do you think? Who else should be included in this list? Follow me on Twitter and let’s discuss potential trades that all Cardinals fans will get behind.