St. Louis Cardinals: Why Matt Adams Has No Trade Value

Apr 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals moved Matt Adams to the bench for 2017. As a result, many fans wanted him traded but he simply doesn’t have any value at the moment.

The St. Louis Cardinals named Matt Carpenter the starting first baseman for the 2017 season in hopes that this move boosts the overall defensive ability of the infield. However, since Matt Adams is incapable of playing anywhere but first base, this left him with no where to go except for the bench. After this announcement, many expected (and some even hoped) that Adams would be traded for someone that could help the team get back to the playoffs.

The problem with that idea though was that there were so many alternatives for other teams to consider that Matt Adams basically had no real value. In 2016, Adams batted .249/.309/.471 in 118 games (327 PA) and tallied 16 home runs and 54 RBI. The 28-year old also owns a career slash-line of .270/.314/.455 and has totaled 55 home runs and 210 RBI over his 5 year career. As a result, Adams will be paid $2.8 million in 2017.

Despite Adams’ decent success in his career, he has been unable to maintain a starting position and has yet to be worth moving. His role has diminished from being the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman to essentially being a full-time pinch hitter. Because of that, trading him is no longer a possibility because there are a number of alternatives for other teams to consider before ever trading for him.

Recently, we saw a number of first base sluggers that have signed contracts and these guys are the exact reason Adams has no value despite decent numbers. Chris Carter and Logan Morrison are two perfect examples of why Matt Adams may not have much trade value at all.

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Logan Morrison recently came to agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays for a total of $2.5 million, which is slightly less than what Adams received from the Cardinals. Morrison, like Adams, is a left-handed hitting first baseman that hasn’t really cemented himself as a full-time player.

In 2016, Morrison played in 107 games hitting .238/.319/.414 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI. Compared to Adams’ 2016 season, we see that they are near identical. Over the course of his 7-year career, Morrison has batted .245/.325/.416 and has totaled 84 home runs and 297 RBI. Again, across their respective careers, Morrison and Adams are pretty similar and offer similar production from the same side of the plate.

This is exactly why Adams has no trade value. Say, for example, the Rays and Cardinals were negotiating a trade and the Cardinals wanted to offer Adams. The Rays could simply respond by asking “Why would we trade a player and pay Adams $2.8M when we could just go to free agency and sign Morrison for cheaper without losing any players in a trade?” They both are incredibly similar and Morrison is a cheaper alternative on the market that teams could have pursued.

We see a similar situation after Chris Carter signed a $3 million contract with the New York Yankees. Granted, Carter and Adams have a number of differences like the fact that Carter can barely play defense and will almost certainly have to fill the designated hitter role. However, the fact that Carter is a power hitter that would be limited to a DH or 1st base role is enough to show that again, teams have alternatives over Matt Adams to consider.

Carter is now making $200,000 more than Matt Adams after a 2016 season where he batted .222/.321/.499 and slugged 41 home runs and 94 RBI. His 41 homers tied for first in the National League. Over his 7-year career, Carter has slashed .218/.314/.463 and totaled 150 home runs and 374 RBI. He’s also hit for 24 or more home runs for 4 straight seasons.

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So a guy that hit more than 40 home runs last season and played first base is only worth $3 million. Meanwhile, fans wanted the Cardinals to trade Matt Adams and even suggested he could be part of packages for a player like Charlie Blackmon. But now, we can clearly see that teams would be better off paying Morrison or Carter rather than trading someone for Adams AND also paying him $2.8M.

It just doesn’t make sense for other teams to trade for Adams with players like Carter and Morrison available in free agency. The list of examples goes on however, when looking at guys like Brandon Moss and Mike Napoli who have also recently reached deals. Or you can even consider some of the remaining first base slugging free agents like Pedro Alvarez, Billy Butler, and Adam Lind.

So Cardinals Nation, this is why Matt Adams was not traded and this is why he won’t be traded any time soon. Adams has no current value in the market when there is a plethora of similar players available to teams at similar salaries. Currently, the St. Louis Cardinals will be stuck with Adams taking a roster spot. Maybe, like last season, his pinch hitting can come up clutch and that will make it all worth it. Or, perhaps, if an injury occurs Adams can come fill in and do well.

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If either situation occurs, Adams value may increase. The one thing he has that most of the players listed above do not is his ability to actually play decent defense at first base. Maybe that will have an impact later on in the season when an inevitable trade discussion comes to life but until then, Matt Adams has no value in today’s trade market.