If the St. Louis Cardinals need to trade, there are several options to think about that can provide value and protect the prospects in the farm system.
It has been said many times that this is a weak free agent class. That doesn’t mean the St. Louis Cardinals will not be able to find what they are looking for, but it is slim pickings for 30 teams.
These are players to think about trading if it gets late in the offseason and nothing has happened. What should the St. Louis Cardinals do if the center field spot doesn’t get filled, or another lefty arm is needed to compensate for injuries?
A player’s value to other teams is derived from the benefit of adding talent without losing key pieces, which results in winning the trade. There are three players that fit the bill of creating a good amount of value for other teams, while not causing a huge backlash in St. Louis.
The one spoiler here is that Jaime Garcia is not on this list. There has been quite a bit of chatter about moving him, but there just are not enough healthy lefties in the organization right now to think about trading him. Plus, the front office has bigger plans for him than a trade if they decided to pick up his contract.
The first player of value that I see is Matt Adams. A good hitter who at 28 years old finds himself on the bench behind Matt Carpenter. Adams has hit .270 during the course of his career, with as many as 17 homers in a season.
There can be an appeal in the American League for Adams as a DH. But he as also proven to be useful off of the bench. That would be his role with the St. Louis Cardinals, yet there are plenty of teams around the league that could use him. As an example, Toronto could be a fit if Edwin Encarnacion doesn’t come back, or Boston could find interest in Adams to start working on filling their David Ortiz-sized hole.
Adams would need to be the cherry on top of the package deal for him to be traded, but he is certainly a fairly valuable option. He is arbitration eligible after the next season, and free agent eligible in 2019. I can see a package of pitchers coming in with Adams headlining the Cardinals side of things.
Trevor Rosenthal is also someone to look into trading. His back-to-back 45-save seasons are still considered recent memory which can increase his value. After a poor 2016 season due to problems in his forearm, he lost the closer job. The recent rumors are for him to be a starter or long relief.
The problem there is the depth the Cardinals have in those roles, especially with the starting pitchers. Between Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia, Alex Reyes, Michael Wacha, and the returns of Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzales, frankly there is not a lot of room there for starting or relieving.
However, Rosenthal’s live fastball gives him value to other teams. Being able to hit triple digits is a huge plus. Teams can use him in a set-up or middle-relief role, or even see if he can regain his closer dominance. Rosenthal will be entering his 27-year-old season, and that age adds value to him as a trade option.
If things get very desperate, the most valuable option to send off is Wacha. He is someone who will be missed but won’t leave a huge hole on his way out of the door. He could leave thanks to the many options the Cardinals have as starting pitchers, especially with the decision to pick up Garcia’s option.
Wacha debuted at 21 years old, was an All-Star at 23, and is entering his 25-year-old season with a career ERA of 3.74. He really burst on the scene during the post-season back in 2013 as he secured the NLCS MVP honor.
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With a mid-90s fastball, there is a huge appeal for a young arm like Wacha. The Cardinals would need a great deal for him to even be considered to be traded. That doesn’t mean, however, he can’t be shopped around, if needed, to see who bites.
There are so many good arms right now that losing Wacha wouldn’t kill the rotation at all. And with the shoulder problems he had last year, he may not return to the pitcher he was anyway, That is tough to gauge. There is also a chance he will have to become a bullpen pitcher to put less stress on the arm. All of these things make him a big question for the Cardinals.
I would still value him at a high level as a prospect for trade. He has played at a high level, and at his age the recovery process is more favorable. If it comes to this, and the Cardinals are desperate to fill a spot for whatever reason, Wacha’s name very well may come up to use as the centerpiece from the Cardinals in a trade.
Having three solid options for trade does not make a guarantee of trade. The Cardinals could stand pat and wait for someone to come knocking. If they do, the knocking team has plenty to ask for and the Cardinals have plenty to give.