St. Louis Cardinals: It’s not whether with Lance Lynn, it’s how
By Larry Levin
There’s been all sorts of debate about whether the St. Louis Cardinals should trade pitcher Lance Lynn or not. But the question isn’t really a matter of if, but how to generate the maximum return.
Because I share my initials with Lance Lynn (as does Lindsay Lohan, with whom I also share a birthday, but that’s for another time), I consider myself singularly capable of weighing in on how the St. Louis Cardinals should handle Lynn at the trade deadline.
Ok, maybe that’s not a good enough reason for my advice. So I’ll try to give a more reasoned explanation on the matter.
If trading Lynn is analyzed solely by considering a trade of the pitcher alone for, say, prospects, the deal isn’t likely to be all that swell. Lynn’s a rental, and that market has been slow developing. Many weren’t all too enamored of what the Detroit Tigers received in return for J.D. Martinez, and clearly Lynn isn’t going to fetch the value that the power-hitting outfielder will.
Second, there are a bunch of pitchers out there, some with longer contracts, some not. Yu Darvish. Sonny Gray. Justin Verlander. Etc. Lynn may be perceived as falling in line below those guys, making the likelihood of a deal for Lynn alone less likely by the deadline.
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It is true the St. Louis Cardinals could wait and offer Lynn a qualifying offer in the off-season, and get a compensatory draft pick, one not as good as under the previous CBA, but still fine.
But why wait? There’s a better solution, and that is to package Lynn to a team in need of both starting pitching and other component parts.
Competitors who could use both starters and batters exist for sure. Boston. Washington. Yankees. There’s a deal for solid prospects to be had with each, and each has been written about enough times that I won’t dwell on them here.
But, you say, what if the Cards still plan on going for it this year? To which I say, Lance is solid, but this move would also free Luke Weaver to show his stuff. The team already has Lynn matched up on starting days with Weaver, in case a deal happens, so clearly they’re already considering the possibility.
While there’s no reason to let Lynn go for less than value in an individual trade, the packaging could create significant value indeed.
Who could he be combined with? Randal Grichuk and his currently hot hand. Pitching prospects beyond Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes and perhaps Sandy Alcantara. We’ve got a ton of those.
Or for a major deal, the one called “blockbuster” by so many, combine Lynn with a controlled Matt Carpenter to free up the infield logjam. Yeah, Carp is solid (at least at the plate, not so much in the field or base paths), and dealing him would unlock the lineup freeze that his lead-off presence requires.
Would that require higher-level prospect packages in return? Of course, but take the Yankees as an example. While they’ve said no so far to offers for their top of Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, others, such as the outfielder Estevan Florial or the OF/shortstop Jorge Mateo, might be in play.
The point is, a Lynn rental will not do it to secure these top guys. But a bundle well might. And it could catapult us above those other teams trying to unload their rental or overpriced pitchers in a hurry. Maybe even before August.