St. Louis Cardinals: Takeaways from trade deadline for the Cardinals

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 29: Mike Matheny
ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 29: Mike Matheny /

The tumultuous trade deadline has passed. Let’s take a look at what it means going forward for the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans.

Distraught. Angry. Confused. Betrayed. Some, if not all, of those words can explain the emotions of St. Louis Cardinals fans after no moves were made before the July 31st trade deadline.

Like most Cardinals fans, I was slobbering over the thought of acquiring a superstar like Josh Donaldson or Giancarlo Stanton. The dream scenario that didn’t happen was the least bit disappointing.

In an echelon lower, there were rumors the Cardinals would bolster their bullpen with veteran Joe Smith or a similar under-the-radar relief weapon. That, too, never happened.

Instead of being buyers, the St. Louis Cardinals also missed the chance to sell off Major League pieces like Trevor Rosenthal, Lance Lynn, Randal Grichuk and Tommy Pham. All four of those players have performed well during the past two weeks, which increased their trade value.

All of these trade scenarios were very logical because the Cardinals’ organization is at a complete crossroads as Derrick Goold mentioned on Twitter.  I wholeheartedly agree with that, but at the same time, keeping guys like Rosenthal, Pham and Lynn is totally fine.

Here are my main takeaways from the Cardinals doing nothing at the trade deadline:

  1. The Cardinals’ front office must feel like they can win from within
  2. Trevor Rosenthal (and Tommy Pham) were too valuable to pull the string
  3. The future of Lance Lynn

The St. Louis Cardinals standing pat at the trade deadline shows the front office believes the 25-30 guys that have bounced around the active Major League roster can win games and be competitive in the NL-Central.

Notice how I said ‘competitive.’ By no means are the St. Louis Cardinals a World Series caliber team, but they could make a late season run and wind up playing in October. Per Fangraphs, the Cardinals have a 23.2 percent chance to make the playoffs, while the Brewers have a 6.5 percent chance.

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This past week the Cardinals won five out of seven games from the National League Wild Card leaders. Anything is possible. Just ask Kevin Garnett.

In all seriousness, with Stephen Piscotty already being activated from the DL, and Dexter Fowler returning soon, the Cardinals can compete down the stretch.

Dominant starting pitching could overcome the issues of an inconsistent offense and a weak bullpen.

Trevor Rosenthal returning to his 2014-2015 self could be the first step in reviving the bullpen. Rosey returning to form may also relieve any pressure off Seung-hwan Oh, and it would allow Mike Matheny and his staff to carve out better bullpen roles.

If the bullpen can settle down slightly, the Cardinals have an even better chance to make noise in the division. This is why failing to acquire a guy like Joe Smith was a little head scratching.

Trevor Rosenthal is too good…

St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals /

Out of the rumored players, trading Rosenthal would have been the most unwise option.

The return from trading him would have been rich in prospects (i.e. the return on Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller in 2016), but it would have set off many red flags.

First, the team’s ability to win games would go right down the drain, and fans would have to watch the Cardinals descend to the bottom of the Central with the lonely Cincinnati Reds.

Second, it would indicate the Cardinals’ front office and coaching staff has thrown in the towel for this season. Rosenthal, at age 27, is the best, hardest throwing reliever the Cardinals have. Trading him would jeopardize the bullpen for years to follow.

Now relief pitchers can crawl out of bed and throw in the upper 90s on an off day. However, very few have 116 career saves under their belt, and even fewer have postseason experience. When Trevor Rosenthal is on, he is an elite level reliever. These types of pitchers come at a premium.

… Tommy Pham is also good

St. Louis Cardinals
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 17: Tommy Pham /

As the trade deadline approached Tommy Pham seemed to get hotter, leading to the inevitable departure of Pham.

Except pitchers were the hot commodity during the waning hours of the deadline, and Pham went nowhere, for good reason.

Losing Pham would be detrimental for the Cardinals’ offense. Since being called up Pham has a wRC+ of 139, which is barely behind Cody Bellinger (141), Anthony Rizzo (141) and Daniel Murphy (140).

That is some good company and exactly what the Cardinals need in the middle of the lineup.

Why trade the best offensive asset on the Cardinals this year? One might argue he is having the best season of his injury plagued career and he’ll never play at a higher level than this.

While very true, I can respond with the Cardinals never gave Pham the chance to thrive and who’s to say he’s not a late bloomer?

Holding onto Pham also signals the Cardinals’ front office trusts the 29-year-old.

Lance Lynn’s future

St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS, MO – JUNE 24: Starter Lance Lynn /

There was heavy speculation Lance Lynn’s time in St. Louis was coming to an end, but the inevitable move never happened.

Instead, Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray headlined the handful of pitchers moved at the deadline.

The St. Louis Cardinals being reluctant to deal Lynn at the deadline may foreshadow something larger.

The Cardinals’ front office may believe Lynn is a valuable piece in the Cardinals’ starting rotation for years to come.

Lynn, who basically predicted he wouldn’t be going anywhere before the deadline, could still sign an extension with the club before season’s end. More likely, however, would be for him to accept a qualifying offer in the off-season likely around $18 million, which is well below his market value.

Lynn is quietly turning in one of his best seasons after coming off Tommy John surgery a year ago. While Lynn is doing his thing, young studs like Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty, to name a few, have made a name for themselves in the minors.

This is where it gets tricky. Stick with the veterans like Lynn and Adam Wainwright or let the plethora of young starting pitchers take the reigns of the pitching staff?

Weaver, Flaherty, and others have shown their worth in the minors, but success in the Majors doesn’t always translate. Just ask Marco Gonzalez and Mike Mayers.

I believe it makes more sense for the Cardinals to pass the torch to the young guys, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their was an off-season trade including a young starting pitcher. With Wainwright getting older and the uncertainty about Lynn returning, it’s likely Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Mike Leake to have three of the five spots locked up in the starting rotation.

That leaves only two remaining spots, which means one or two young starters may get the short end of the stick. Instead of wasting their value in the minors I would try to formulate a trade for proven Major League talent.

Next: Cardinals too quiet at trade deadline

Let me know your thoughts about no moves from the Cardinals’ front office in the comments or on Twitter. Thanks for reading!