If the St. Louis Cardinals cannot land Stanton, then they must find the next best hitter.
If trade talks stall with Miami Marlins, who do the St. Louis Cardinals turn to next, and maybe more importantly how is the player acquired? The Cardinals will have several options if the trade talks go south on Stanton. They will either have to turn to other teams looking to trade some pieces or free agency to acquire the big bat.
The obvious trade candidate we have all heard about is Josh Donaldson. The former AL-MVP would be a great addition in St. Louis, but would come at a price in terms of prospects. It is also worth noting Donaldson would be a free agent after the 2018 season. It might be possible to acquire him for fewer prospects than thought, but for a rental? I think the Cardinals would need some more commitment from Donaldson almost immediately after a trade to make such a deal happen.
I’ll steer clear of J.D. Martinez for right now, seeing as he is a free agent and will not be affected too greatly by the GM meetings. However, it is worth noting Martinez plays the same position as Stanton. This could fuel the Cardinals to acquire Martinez through free agency. However, based on the contract Scott Boras wants to get Martinez, I doubt the Cardinals will go for anything like that.
What other players, though, could the Cardinals consider at the GM meetings?
About three weeks ago, I wrote about the possibility of adding a player like Jose Abreu to the Cardinals. The power-hitting first base man had a resurgent year in 2017 and looked every bit of the rookie sensation in 2014. Abreu is a career .301 hitter so far in his career, and averaged thirty-three home runs a year since 2014.
While not as flashy as Donaldson or Stanton, Abreu still provides the Cardinals with enough power and average to be a force in the lineup. However, I think the biggest cost will be the prospects needed to acquire him. While the White Sox are still in rebuild mode, Abreu is still under contract through 2019 through arbitration.
If traded to the Cardinals, I would guess the team would probably look to sign him to long-term deal to secure first base. Of course a move such as this will displace some players from positions on the field, such as Matt Carpenter. However, a move for Donaldson would do the same.
If the Cardinals are unable to find a partner at the GM meetings, it’s possible they hold out until the Winter Baseball Meetings to really intensify their search for the impact bat then.