St. Louis Cardinals: Should the Cards trade Carlos Martinez?

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 13: Carlos Martinez #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 13, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 13: Carlos Martinez #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 13, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Rumors have picked up steam last week that the St. Louis Cardinals would entertain offers for Carlos Martinez.  Should the Cardinals trade the ‘ace’ of the staff?

After the firing of Manager Mike Matheny last weekend, rumors started flying around that the St. Louis Cardinals would consider offers for their right-handed ace, Carlos Martinez.  The rumors took hold nationally when New York Post baseball writer, Joel Sherman, wrote a piece about it on Sunday.

Sherman contends, the Yankees are looking for a top of the rotation help and if the St. Louis Cardinals continue to falter, Martinez may become available.  He based this on conversations he had with scouts and executives at the Futures Game.

However, it appears the rumors started out of St. Louis.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote on Tuesday that the reports weren’t, “rumor or innuendo. This is a possibility.”  Goold also pointed out that Martinez would bring a high return and noted the New York Yankees would have the prospects to pull the deal off.

Is the time right to trade Carlos Martinez?  Let’s take a closer look at the talented right-hander.

Carlos Martinez..a frustrating talent

Carlos Martinez is a top of the rotation or ‘ace’ talent that hasn’t yet reached his potential.  Martinez has a six-year ERA of 3.41 and a 52-38 record.  By most MLB standards this is certainly adequate, but expectations for Martinez have been higher.

Bringing in MIke Maddux as the new pitching coach for 2018, was to help Martinez become the ace the Cards have expected since 2015.  The move seemed to be paying off in the first month of the season.

By May 8th, Martinez was leading the NL with a 1.62 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched.  Also, the two-time All Star had given up just one home run to the 210 batters he faced.

However, on May 10th he was placed on the 10-day DL with a right lat strain. ‘CMart’ didn’t return to the Cardinals lineup until June 5th.  Since coming back, Martinez has nine starts and an ERA of 5.32.  Of those nine starts, only four were considered quality starts.

To add to the St. Louis Cardinals’ continuing frustrations, CMart returned to the 10-day DL with an oblique strain on Saturday.  Dr. Michael Miles is covering this news for Redbird Rants and you can read more details on Martinez’s recent injury here.

Related Story: Martinez to the disabled list

The case for trading Carlos Martinez

As the St. Louis Cardinals entered Sunday, they were 7.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central race and 4.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the second WC spot.  The Cardinals are set to start their next contest with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. St. Louis will then finish July with a three game series with the Cubs at home, and then host the WC contending Colorado Rockies.

If the Cardinals falter in the games between now and the Trade Deadline on July 31, an understandable case could be made to trade Martinez.  The Cardinals would likely be essentially out of the race for the NL Central or the WC.

The trade value for the 26-year-old Martinez would be high with few top of the rotation talent expected to be available at the trade deadline. The Yankees are in the middle of a race with the Boston Red Sox for the AL East title.  Consequently,  the last thing the Yankees want is to be in the sudden death WC game.

The ‘Pin Stripes’ have a fairly deep farm system and likely be willing to deal for a top of the rotation piece.  The Cardinals have other needs besides starting pitching and could deal for a needed bat prospect.

What the Yankees make available would obviously be the key if the Cardinals moved Martinez.

The Case for keeping Carlos Martinez

This is obvious, he is very talented.

CMart is only 26 years old and has shown flashes of brilliance in his six-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals.  As stated earlier, he was having a career year in April and early May before his lat injury.

The Cardinals may have brought him back too soon and could be the explanation for his sub par performance since his return.

Talents such as Carlos Martinez don’t come along very often.  Even though the St. Louis Cardinals farm system is considered very deep with pitching, trading Martinez would likely be painful for the organization.

Martinez is signed through 2021 on an affordable five-year $51-million contract, with team options for 2022 and 2023.  Consequently, there shouldn’t be a rush or a need to unload CMart’s contract.

Finally, even though the Cardinals are considered to be deep in pitching prospects, it’s really more uncertain than it appears.  Adam Wainwright is likely looking a retirement after this year and Michael Wacha long-term health has been under question for the last couple of years.  Wacha has been on the DL since June 20, and when he returns in 2018 is still uncertain.

Alex Reyes was lost to another year-ending injury on May 30th with a right lat injury.  Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty, although look promising, are still rookies in their first full year as starters.  Dakota Hudson is still in Memphis, waiting for a call up to see if he is major league ready.

Carlos Martinez has shown to be a durable major league starter, thus far in his career.

My Thoughts

More from Redbird Rants

The rumors are still flying around about Carlos Martinez being trade bait for the Cardinals as we enter Monday’s game vs the Reds. We have seen the bullpen blow up in Thursday’s and the first game against the Cubs on Saturday (and whatever mess that was on Sunday night).  Obviously, the Cardinals need bullpen help. The answers don’t seem to be  waiting in AAA Memphis.

I’ve changed my opinion in recent weeks.  Now, I believe fixing the bullpen supersedes the needed offensive help.  Tyler Lyons, Greg Holland, Luke Gregerson, and others coming up and down from Memphis are not getting it done.  Something must be done about the Cards bullpen and it needs to be done now.

However, I’m not ready to trade away Carlos Martinez.  I still believe he will be the ‘ace’ we have expected him to become. There is no sure other option the Cardinals have in their system who can fill that role. Maybe, Alex Reyes, but we haven’t yet seen his durability that we have seen from CMart.

The Cardinals have other pieces to trade to bring in bullpen help.  But the move better be soon.

Keep Carlos.

Next: Cardinals press reset

Let’s us know your opinion.  Should the St. Louis Cardinals trade Carlos Martinez?  Thanks for reading and Go Cards.