While the St. Louis Cardinals patiently trek through the rest of the off-season, the focus still remains on a reliever and possibly a starter.
One of these days the Hot Stove will bring us some news of the St. Louis Cardinals. I know it’s been frustrating for most of you, but I think there is some encouraging news to take from the last couple of days. Lately, much of the speculation focused on an area John Mozeliak described as “fine” in December.
While the team signed Miles Mikolas to anchor the five-man rotation in 2018, many in Cardinal Nation remain skeptical of the rotation’s ability to keep the team in games. While Mozeliak threw the notion of more rotation help aside, recent news on Jake Arrieta has many wondering what the Cardinals are truly up to at this point.
If the interest is real, then I believe it is time to revisit the trade for Chris Archer. I don’t think it ever went away, but it was clear the team’s focus was on the Tampa Bay closer, Alex Colome. If you’ve missed my latest postings on Colome, I’ve been debating him between signing Greg Holland, and, at the time, Wade Davis.
My research gave me an opportunity to discuss what I think it would cost the Cardinals to get Colome from the Rays. If you missed the Davis article, check it out here. But, if you want the more relevant Holland comparison, check the link below.
Since I’m not comparing Archer to any other pitcher linked to the St. Louis Cardinals, I’ll jump right into the cost of acquisition for both Colome and Archer.
Cost of acquisition
In my Colome articles, I used MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections to help calculate what I thought Colome would receive over the next three years in arbitration. MLBTR has Colome making right around $5.5 million in his first year, right around $7-8 million his second year, and somewhere between $9-10 million in his last year. His total arbitration worth would be right around the $21-23 million range.
To match Colome’s value, I said the St. Louis Cardinals would have to send pitcher Austin Gomber and outfielder Harrison Bader. Fan graphs rates Gomber future value at a 40, which translates to about $10-12 million. Bader’s future value is ranked at 45, which is worth $11 million for a hitter. Both players at the end of the day would be worth around $23 million.
A hot contention point will be the years of control. While the St. Louis Cardinals will be giving up plenty of control, remember two things.
- They are just prospects: We don’t know if either player will pan out. We saw a glimpse of Bader, but have yet to see Gomber yet.
- The Cardinals have more pitching and outfield depth than you realize.
It’s important to keep those two things in mind when discussing any trade, but they are very important to what it takes to get both Archer and Colome. Now add Archer into the mix.
For those who are unfamiliar with Archer, he is a one of the game’s better pitcher on one of the team friendliest contracts I’ve ever seen. With four years remaining on his contract, Archer is easily one of the most desirable arms on the market. Check out his numbers over the last couple of seasons:
If you’re looking for consistency in a pitcher, look no further than Archer. His consistency and overall value, including the contract, make him one of the most desirable arms in the game. However, with all the accolades, the cost of Archer is still going to be extremely high.
Let’s strike the obvious down. I don’t think the St. Louis Cardinals will trade either Alex Reyes or Luke Weaver in a deal like this. Reyes is a once in generation talent, and Weaver proved more than capable of being a quality big league pitcher. Plus, Reyes, future value ranking of 60 is worth $34 million, so again not a chance.
The next best available pitching prospect you’d have to include would be Jack Flaherty. According to Fan Graphs, Flaherty’s future value is at 50, which is worth $14 million for a pitcher. From what we’ve seen, Flaherty still has some polishing to do. He will more than likely start in triple-A, and be a pitcher the Cardinals call up if someone is injured. Flaherty projects as a number three or four starter, but if his upside swings in the right direction, he has the stuff to be a high-end two.
Here is where it starts to get a little dicey. Flaherty’s value puts a nice little dent into Archer’s value, but Flaherty, Gomber, and Bader alone is not enough for the Rays in my opinion.
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The first option is to consider another outfield prospect. Remember the depth that I mentioned? The St. Louis Cardinals outfield depth is just as impressive as their starting pitching.
One intriguing name is Jose Adolis Garcia. His future value ranks at 50, which worth around $20 million for a hitter.
He quietly made his way through double-A, landing in triple-A by the end of last season.
Here is a quick excerpt on Garcia by Fan Graphs’ Eric Longenhagen:
“Garcia turned 24 in March, a bit old for someone who spent most of the year at Double-A, and his aggressive style of hitting still gives some evaluators pause about his future role. But he has big-league hitting ability, game-changing arm strength, and enough speed to make up for what he lacks in baseball feel. I have him projected as an average everyday player.”
Those who question why not throw in another pitching arm, I just don’t see the Cardinals putting another top arm in the mix. It doesn’t make sense long-term for the team. No sense in completely depleting the system for seven years of control between Colome and Archer.
The second option I would consider is involving Micahel Wacha into the mix. With all this speculation of the Cardinals getting a starting pitcher, many of us are ignoring the simple fact that there is no room in the rotation for another starting pitcher. Except, of course, if you are willing to include Michael Wacha in the deal for Colome.
Wacha’s contract is still in year two and three of arbitration. He projects to receive $6 million next season and somewhere between $8-10 million in final year of arbitration. The only problem with including Wacha in a deal is his consistency. While last year he showed a decent comeback from his injuries, I think most teams are still skeptical on what he is able to do. I think most Cardinal fans are skeptical as well.
The deal would look something like this:
- Cardinals receive Colome and Archer
- Rays receive Flaherty, Gomber, Bader, Garcia, and Wacha
- Total value moving in the deal: Cards send $73 million, Rays send $55 million
It feels like a lot to give up, but I go back to what I said earlier. The St. Louis Cardinals have depth, and they need to use it to their advantage. If the team wants to compete, this move makes sense. My only concern is that this particular deal won’t be enough.
Our Twitter pal, cgsCards, suggested the deal would need to be close to what Boston gave up for Chris Sale. The only difference though is Yoan Moncada. His future value exceeds any Cardinal hitting prospect by A LOT. Including Moncada raised the value of the deal by about $100 million alone. No St. Louis player is even close to that. Whether Boston overpaid or not isn’t up to me, but I think Cardinals won’t get close to that value.
Archer and Colome would be a huge addition to the St. Louis Cardinals for 2018 and beyond. Let me know in the comments if you think this proposal if off.