St. Louis Cardinals: On keeping or dealing Luke Weaver
By Larry Levin
Larry and Dan debate the value of St. Louis Cardinals young arm, Luke Weaver.
Larry: …which kinds of transactions would be right in which to include him. Thoughts?
DAN: Larry, you make some great points. Let me start by offering some rebuttal. First, the incredible K/BB ratio is skewed by a small sample size. I would like to see what Weaver does over a full season.
Indeed, as you must concede, Weaver’s 18 starts over two partial major league seasons is little more than a half season by way of sample size – a sample size that many would argue tells a tale of two pitchers.
If Weaver, who is no longer a surprise to opposing hitters but more of a known quantity, can replicate his K/BB success, then I agree his ceiling is much higher than I currently expect. Just like it’s premature to elevate or criticize Weaver based on the small sample size, it is unfair to criticize Miller for injury-riddled campaigns in which he put up ghastly numbers.
Indeed, I understand perfectly why the young stud Shelby Miller had to be included to land Heyward. I also think the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in a similar position now, where a young starter (or two) will have to be included in a deal to land a superstar.
You asked about which deal the St. Louis Cardinals might want to include Weaver in to net a large return. Let me first say that the St. Louis Cardinals do not need to, and thus should not, include Luke Weaver in any deal involving Giancarlo Stanton.
As we have discussed on the podcast numerous times, the Marlins simply do not have enough leverage to get that much talent in a trade if they are really motivated to dump the remaining $295M on Stanton’s contract. Alas, I digress.
There are only two-to-three superstars for whom I would trade Luke Weaver. Don’t get me wrong, I too think he has a high ceiling – I just think he ends up looking a lot like Shelby Miller once he endures the grind of a full 30-35 start season. We shall see.
But, the three trades in which I would include Luke Weaver as a centerpiece are: (1) Manny Machado; (2) Chris Archer; and (3) Josh Donaldson AND Marcus Stroman. I want to take these one at a time here.
First, Machado. I understand that the Orioles swear he is not available. But, if the Orioles are bluffing, or if the team struggles out of the gate and Machado refuses to negotiate an extension, then he will be available. The St. Louis Cardinals could build a package around Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Harrison Bader/Magneuris Sierra and Delvin Perez.
This deal would have to be conditioned on signing Machado to an extension for him to remain in St. Louis long-term.
The Orioles would have a really hard time turning this deal down. You get several top-100 prospects and all with lots of team control left. I understand that this deal is unlikely, but the deal in which I would trade Luke Weaver must net a large return or I would prefer to keep him.
Second, Chris Archer (and possibly Alex Colome depending on deal structure). I do not think the Rays will deal Archer, but if they do, he is a current ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball. He is also signed to one of the most team-friendly deals in the game.
The deal for Archer could include Weaver, Dakota Hudson, and Carson Kelly. The Rays would find this deal very attractive because they get a two major-league ready starters and a major-league ready catcher who has worked with those starters. This is a deal the St. Louis Cardinals could make in addition to adding Giancarlo Stanton. Can you imagine that?
Finally, Josh Donaldson AND Marcus Stroman. Marcus Stroman reminds me a lot of de facto team ace Carlos Martinez. Better still, Stroman is under team control through the end of the 2020 season. Donaldson is only under team control for one year, but with Stroman in this deal I am perfectly fine with the Cardinals doing this deal without extending Donaldson.
The deal for these players would be very similar to the deal for Archer and Colome mentioned above, although you may have to include another pitcher such as a Sandy Alcantara or Jack Flaherty to sweeten the pot and get both stars.
I would much rather keep Weaver if he is not involved in a deal to bring home a superstar. But, his value is at its peak right now. He WILL regress this next season from his stellar run and the hype surrounding him based on last year’s partial success. I say sell high if you can swing one of these deals. Et tus, Larry? What say you?