St. Louis Cardinals: A new reason to trade for the “Bringer of Rain”
The St. Louis Cardinals have a clear path to a Josh Donaldson trade. That clear path was recently created by the Toronto Blue Jays. The time for a deal is now.
The St. Louis Cardinals are rumored to hold an interest in Toronto Blue Jays slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson. The Cardinals continue the pursuit of the slugger amidst reports that Toronto has no desire to trade Donaldson.
The Toronto Blue Jays, as many of you know, traded for Yangervis Solarte of the San Diego Padres for two players. What position does Solarte play, primarily? Third Base.
Did the Blue Jays signal that Donaldson is more expendable than once believed? Check out this tweet from Baseball America which prompted this post:
It is ludicrous to believe that Solarte, while talented and with flashes of a decent ceiling, would replace Josh Donaldson. But, Solarte could be the perfect high-upside stop-gap for Toronto’s burgeoning middle infield prospects. Moreover, this move cannot be viewed in isolation.
As many of you recall, the Blue Jays also acquired former St. Louis Cardinals all-star shortstop Aledmys Diaz for outfield prospect J.B. Woodman.
The Toronto infield depth chart now includes Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Diaz, Solarte, Devon Travis, Justin Smoak, Steve Pearce, and Kendrys Morales (excluding catchers). That is eight infielders for four infield spots and the DH.
While the Blue Jays could keep all of these players, I believe they made the trade for Solarte to clear the path for a Donaldson trade. Why? Great question.
There is no doubt that many people see Diaz and Solarte as utility infielders and Pearce is clearly a reserve as well. But, when healthy, Tulowitzki is starting at shortstop and former top prospect Devon Travis is starting at second.
If you assume both players are healthy to start the season, that would mean that Toronto is carrying three players whose best position is third: Donaldson, Diaz, and Solarte. Moreover, the Blue Jays have only three outfielders (understanding that Pearce can play outfield) on their roster right now. That group of outfielders is not impressive.
Do we really think that the Blue Jays are going to carry just three outfielders and ten infielders on their roster? Could the team compete with only 12 pitchers on the 25-man roster? It is possible but it does not seem likely.
The Blue Jays need help in the outfield and now have a logjam in the infield. That is why a Donaldson trade makes sense now more than ever.
The Blue Jays need to net a return from Donaldson before he hits free agency.
The Blue Jays would be wise to deal Josh Donaldson to the St. Louis Cardinals before the season starts. His value will never be higher, and the compensatory draft pick a team receives when a player rejects a qualifying offer under the new CBA is insufficient to justify that strategy with a potential free agent.
Moreover, the Blue Jays can always trade Donaldson and then attempt to re-sign him as a free agent if the team really wanted him as a future DH. That is the best of both worlds as they will receive prospects in a trade and then retain their slugger after next season.
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Other than the depth and upside of the players the Blue Jays acquired, the Jays also have two of the best position-player prospects nearing the majors. Highly touted, and pedigreed, prospects Vlad Guererro Jr. and Bo Bichette are rocketing through the prospect ranks and offer the Blue Jays a one-two punch on the left side of the infield at a pittance compared to what Donaldson will make in this next season alone.
Now that we have established how sensible a trade of Donaldson would be, let us visit the framework of a trade with his best suitor – the St. Louis Cardinals.
A potential deal for Josh Donaldson
The Blue Jays, as mentioned above, lack depth and upside in the outfield. The St. Louis Cardinals can offer both in a potential trade. The Blue Jays – if they are truly competing now – may want Randal Grichuk. The Cardinals would gladly include him in such a deal.
If the Blue Jays desire an outfielder who could align with the ascendance of Guererro and Bichette, then the St. Louis Cardinals can offer Harrison Bader or another outfielder a little further away from the majors.
No deal for the caliber of player that is Donaldson gets done without pitching. The St. Louis Cardinals have a few pitchers who are seemingly blocked without a clear spot in the majors.
I do not think the Cardinals would (or should) include Luke Weaver or Alex Reyes in a trade. But, the Cardinals could easily part with Dakota Hudson and a lesser pitching prospect such as Austin Gomber.
Thus, I think a deal framework of one of Grichuk/Bader plus Dakota Hudson and Austin Gomber would be a great deal for Toronto and the St. Louis Cardinals. That is the deal that the Blue Jays are baiting the Cardinals into offering now that they have Solarte to be the stop-gap at third base for Guerrero and Bichette.
Finally, the Blue Jays would be wise to make this deal because the chances of the team competing in a stacked AL-East are small. The Yankees and Red Sox are loaded and both teams are attempting to load up even more.
The Blue Jays are in a position to pull off a quick rebuild by selling short-term assets for prospects that can help them compete in just a few years. That is the logical approach for ownership to take, and it all starts with a trade of Donaldson to St. Louis.
Next: Why Alex Cobb Makes Sense for the Birds
The St. Louis Cardinals must strike while the iron is hot. The Toronto Blue Jays are now inundated with sufficient infield depth and upside to justify a trade of Josh Donaldson. The Jays also have Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette ready to break out and take over on the right side of the infield. The St. Louis Cardinals can solidify the present while helping the Blue Jays solidify that future. This trade is a win-win for both teams and needs to happen now. Thoughts?