St. Louis Cardinals Rumors: Possible Deals For Lorenzo Cain And Adam Eaton

Aug 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton (1) makes a catch against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton (1) makes a catch against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals seem to be preparing for a big move during the Winter Meetings and two names they have been keeping an eye on are Lorenzo Cain and  Adam Eaton.

Fox Sports MLB predicts Eaton will join the St. Louis Cardinals come Opening Day.  He is 27 years old and under contract until 2019 with a 2-year option that will go through 2021.  Eaton’s contract is fairly cheap too, starting at four million this year and gradually increasing to $10.5 million by 2021.

It looks like the centerpiece from the St. Louis Cardinals side of things is RHP Jack Flaherty, the number four prospect in the organization.  Flaherty, 21, is a former first-round pick with the ceiling to be a star.  He features four pitches, his changeup being the best.  There are projections of him reaching the MLB as early as 2018.

The consistency of Eaton is what makes him worth a top prospect like Flaherty.  In three years as a starter, Eaton slashed .290/.362/.422 while hitting twenty-nine home runs and stealing forty-seven bases.  He has an interesting combination of power and speed that would be very beneficial to the lineup in St. Louis.

As far as a defensive option, it would be smart to keep Eaton in right field.  In his first two years he was predominantly a center fielder and had negative UZR both years.  Last season he spent most of the time in right field with a UZR of 22.5 which is a Gold Glove caliber year.  The improvement of his defense raised his WAR from three to six.

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The report on Lorenzo Cain is that the St. Louis Cardinals are “keeping tabs” on him.   He will be a free agent at the end of the season, and the Royals don’t have the money to give him an extension.  That opens him up to be moved this winter.

While the Royals may want to move Cain, their asking price may be a little too high for a potential one-year player entering his 31-year-old season.  Rumor has it top outfield prospect Harrison Bader is the starting asking price.  Cain is a former MVP candidate, but not worth a top prospect for one year and no guaranteed extension.

Kansas City is looking for young starters, and the Cardinals have plenty to give that are not the highest rated in the organization.  Last year Cain played in only 103 games due to injury.  He still hit .287 with forteen stolen bases and nine home runs.

For two years Cain had a UZR above 15, then a year at 14.2.  Last season he sat at 9.2 for UZR which is still good.  Unlike Eaton, St. Louis would be able to put Cain in center with confidence.  That would allow Randal Grichuk to move over to left.

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Both players would be a good option, assuming the St. Louis Cardinals can extend Cain’s contract.  And while it looks more and more like Dexter Fowler will be a Cardinal every day, these two options should not be counted out.

If John Mozeliak is after Cain or Eaton, the latter should be target number one.  He is younger, locked in for longer, and was not plagued by injuries last season.  Ultimately it will most likely come down to the asking price.

Chicago will want a little more than just Flaherty.  The other name getting thrown around is 19-year-old 3B Bryce Denton.  He was taken in the second round of the 2015 draft.  Being so young there is still work to do but all the intangibles are there.  When he doesn’t try to pull the ball he has shown flashes of brilliance with the bat.

Either deal is probably going to have to involve a top OF prospect,  Bader or Magneuris Sierra.  Reports have said that Bader was the starting point with the discussions about Cain. Both young prospects are top-10 in the organization and poised to be stars. The question is, does Mozeliak want to part with either player.

Eaton and Cain both solve an immediate need, and neither completely shut the door on Fowler.  That being said, a trade for Cain or Eaton will involve top prospects that will be tough to part with.  By the end of Winter Meetings, fans should have an answer about what the Opening Day outfield will look like.