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: Dan, thanks for recognizing Weaver’s enormous upside potential. Of course I agree that it’s way too soon to know if Luke’s small major-league sample size portends an exceptional career. We do know that his minor-league stats teased who he’d be and his early efforts in St. Louis back that up.
But yes, I think there is a reasonable chance that his upside exceeds that of the very fine work Shelby Miller was able to turn in prior to his injuries the past two years.
So that leads to the question of whether there are trades in which I’d include him if I were John Mozeliak or Mike Girsch. So let me go through the deals you speculate about and then address whether there are any others I’d recommend.
I am not going to even speculate about Manny Machado. If there’s any chance at all that he’s dealt in this, his walk year, I believe it will happen at the July trade deadline, to a contender. So I don’t see this as a reasonable possibility (and watch me get that wrong!).
Chris Archer? Nah. He’s a great pitcher and any MLB team would be happy to have him. But would I surrender Weaver-plus and his upside, good for another six years of control, for a $33M, four-year commitment?
I might if I didn’t have a Carlos Martinez and an Alex Reyes coming up right behind him. But right now, I’m comfy enough with the impressive pitching talent of the Cardinals to not go dealing for a multi-million dollar pitcher.
Is Archer a bargain in the context of free agent starters? Of course. But that’s not enough for me, given the talent we already possess on the mound.
And while Colome might be a nice add as a powerful bullpen arm, by no means am I surrendering Weaver, another power arm in Hudson AND one of the best catcher prospects in the majors, Carson Kelly, for the Tampa pair. If the Cards want a closer, there are options out there to plain old buy one in the free agent market with no prospect relinquishment.
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Which brings me to Donaldson and Stroman. This is the closest call, and given Stroman is a proven, established version of Weaver at three years of cheap control, I’d at least consider a deal. But I don’t think that the Cards would include the package you suggest, and neither would I. If St. Louis goes free agent for a closer, then it’s my belief that we trade for a hitter than can benefit the team more than a year.
Why do I say that? Because while a Donaldson type will always make your team better, the Cards are in the process of building a team that can be competitive for multiple years. There’s no Donaldson that I know of in the Cards organization, so we’d likely be back at square one after 2018 looking for another bopper. That’s why the Stanton/Yellich/Ozuna type options are more appealing to me.
While I’m not sure I agree with you on whether good prospects will be required for a Stanton deal, I don’t think Weaver needs to be part of it. There are others, like the ones you’ve mentioned — Hudson, Alcantara etc (but apparently not Jordan Hicks, who the team seems unwilling to part with) — who could fill the bill.
It’s not that I think Weaver is some sort of baseball god, far from it. It’s just that the logic of the moment doesn’t require dealing a guy who holds the promise of slotting into the top three slots in the Cards’ rotation for a half dozen years to come. And that’s not an asset I trade lightly.
That’s all I got, Dan. Any final words before we sign out?
DAN: Larry, excellent insight as usual. One thing to add, as we conclude this debate, is that the type of conversation that Larry and I just engaged in is exactly what the St. Louis Cardinals are doing internally. Whether we like it or not, Luke Weaver IS available to other teams in the right deal.
There is no untouchable (other than Yadier Molina) on this roster. Thus, while some may take issue with our polite discourse as speculative, debating players and their fits with this team or in trades is precisely the type of conversation that the St. Louis Cardinals must have to transform this roster.
Lastly, the one thing Larry and I clearly agree on is that Luke Weaver is incredibly valuable. My main point continues to be that the extreme value we see in Luke Weaver is redundant in the face of an Alex Reyes, Sandy Alcantara and Jordan Hicks, and Luke Weaver is more valuable to other teams in need of young pitching as a result.
I only hope that the front office values Luke as highly as Larry and I do – otherwise, a trade partner will steal an incredible talent from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Next: Blockbuster deal from Seattle
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