St. Louis Cardinals: Selling teams and names to target

May 31, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) and center fielder Christian Yelich (21) and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
May 31, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) and center fielder Christian Yelich (21) and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

As June is in full swing and the summer starts to heat up, so will the potential trade rumors for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The trade deadline continues to creep closer and closer. For the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans, the question still remains, will this team be buyers or sellers at the deadline. Assuming the Cardinals will find a way to be more competitive throughout the month of June, there are a few teams around the league that seem to pretty clearly be on the path to selling.

For the Cardinals adding a piece may be a helpful step in the right direction to actually winning games.

The obvious need for the Cardinals has made itself very clear over the last couple weeks. If this team does not find itself more offense and fast, there will be no competing for a playoff spot. The bullpen still remains an issue but not as much as the need for another bat in the lineup.

Miami Marlins

The first team to look at is the Miami Marlins. You have probably heard the names and will continue to all the way through the trade deadline and that is because the Marlins management has been said to be willing to listen on Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Each one of these players fills a need; they are both solid hitting outfielders who could slide right into the middle of the lineup.

Of the two, Ozuna makes the most sense. While Yelich is a bit younger, he is also under team control for quite a bit longer than Ozuna. That reason right there will net the Marlins a bigger return and that is something the Cardinals have always been timid about involving themselves with. Each of these two is under very team-friendly contracts, Yelich until 2022 and Ozuna until 2020.

Trading for one of these two outfielders fills a desperate need, that of a productive bat. At this point in time both of these two are hitting over .300, something that only Jedd Gyorko can say for the St. Louis Cardinals. When it comes to the power side, Ozuna is the right choice. In 2016, Ozuna hit twenty-three home runs; he is following that up this season by already hitting fourteen home runs in only fifty-seven games.

Adding ether one of these players is going to cost a pretty penny. If the Cardinals want to be considered in the running for either Ozuna or Yelich they will have to include some bigger names. A combination of Jack Flaherty, Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver, Harrison Bader or Magneuris Sierra will absolutely be part of the asking price.

Detroit Tigers

The next team to take a look at is the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have an aging core and do not appear to be true contenders this year in the AL-Central. Those two factors make the Detroit Tigers a prime selling candidate when the trade deadline rolls around.

The most glaring and obvious player the St. Louis Cardinals could be connected to is J.D Martinez. If the Cardinals want to add a power bat to the middle of the order, they will be hard pressed to find a better option. Martinez is a clear three or four hitter and would allow the Cardinals to be a bit more flexible going forward with the lineup.

In only seventy-five at-bats so far in 2017, Martinez has ten home runs, while batting a solid .293. That is power that the Cardinals would be happy to add into the middle of the lineup. The Cardinals could slot Martinez into left field and have a much more consistent presence from the position than they have had all year.

The big difference for the Cardinals when it comes to Ozuna/Yelich or J.D Martinez is that Martinez is very much a rental. Martinez will be a free agent at the end of the season, while Ozuna and Yelich each offer multiple years.

His pending free agency should also make Martinez a bit more inexpensive when it comes to a trade. It may not take multiple prospects but it would leave the St. Louis Cardinals potentially scrambling for a left fielder in next year’s offseason.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Trading with a division rival is never easy and most of the time it makes the price tag even higher but when the Cardinals are looking for a trade partner they shouldn’t overlook the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While the Pirates don’t have the flashy additions that the previous two teams we looked at have, they do have one intriguing option. Andrew McCutchen has been a perennial All-Star for nearly eight years but has hit a wall in Pittsburgh.

Cardinal fans should know that a change of scenery can do a lot for a player’s production. Matt Adams is showing everyone that is the case since his move to Atlanta. McCutchen could offer a very solid defense in either left field or right field, depending on what the Cardinals work out.

His stats at the plate have not been exactly mind blowing this year but they are still better than we have seen from the previous starter at the left field or right field position for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.

Taking on this kind of risk would mean the Cards would not want to part with too much in any sort of deal with the Pirates. Unfortunately, that is where the difficulty would come into play. No team wants to get beat by a former player and this trade would open the Pirates to constantly see McCutchen in divisional games.

Of the potential players the Cardinals could add, this one would be the most unlikely. Combining the fact that McCutchen is a division rival and the price tag that would entail with the risk of adding someone who isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire statistically makes this deal hard to pull off. But, if other options start to fly off the board this may be one to keep on the back burner.

Toronto Blue Jays

The final potential trade partner for the St. Louis Cardinals we will look at is the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have been mentioned before as a potential trade partner for the Cardinals and their play this season makes them more and more likely of being sellers at the deadline.

A clear need for the Cardinals at this point in the season is more production out of the left field spot, but increased production at all would be a welcomed addition. Josh Donaldson has been mentioned many times before; fellow writer Tito Rivera mentioned Donaldson in a post very early on in the season.

Adding Donaldson fills a clear need. His power ability is hard to deny and his killer attitude is something the Cardinals haven’t had for quite some time.

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Donaldson missed some time in the early part of the year which has made his power numbers look less impressive but history shows that the power is there and will continue to be there. In 2015 Donaldson hit forty-one home runs and he followed that up in 2016 with thirty-seven home runs. After leading the league in home runs in 2016, the Cardinals are clearly missing that power in the middle of the order.

The problem with Donaldson comes when you look at the position he plays. When mentioning previous players the Cardinals could look to add they all had something in common, they were outfielders. The Cardinals could very easily add an outfielder and slot him into left field tomorrow, adding a third basemen makes things a little more difficult.

Jedd Gyorko, one of the only productive bats the Cardinals have, has made third base his home. Kolten Wong who will be returning from injury around the end of this week has shown his bat has been improving. Adding a full time, everyday third basemen makes for a few questions when it comes to the lineup.

Regardless of the questions, Donaldson would be a welcome addition to a team that has been desperate for a spark on offense. Donaldson would not be a rental exactly, because he would be under contract for a full season after this one, which makes his price just a bit higher. The Blue Jays will be looking to reload to match some of the youth on their team and the Cardinals have the prospects to get a deal done.

Trusting in John Mozeliak has done Cardinal fans well in the past. For the first time in his tenure the Cardinals are in an extended stretch of poor play, stretching back to last year. If the Cardinals are going to be buyers at this trade deadline it won’t be for the normal small piece or two hoping that will be all that is needed for a run.

Next: Podcast episode 5

This year the Cardinals need to make a splash, because two years in a row of poor play will lead to a lot of questions about the current roster and even current management. What move(s) would you make?