St. Louis Cardinals: Matching up the Cards and Blue Jays for a trade
Sportsnet is reporting the Toronto Blue Jays will try to trade pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez in order to get more young talent. The St. Louis Cardinals, again, might make a good trade partner for the Blue Jays.
The St. Louis Cardinals limped away from Wrigley Field after their sweep by the Chicago Cubs. They head into this week with a four game losing streak as they face first the Phillies, and then the Pirates at home.
As demonstrated against the Cubs, the rotation is a concern. At this point, I’m not worried about Miles Mikolas or Jack Flaherty. Nevertheless, Dakota Hudson is in his first full year as a starter, so we don’t know if the extra innings will eventually catch up to him. Additionally, the durability of Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha is in question.
Wainwright is showing he is a workhorse, but the right hander is now closer to 38 than 37. Can he hold up for the entire season? Wacha’s injury history is well documented and hasn’t ever pitched more than 181 innings in his career (2015). He only pitched 84 innings in 2018 and has already spent some time on the IL in 2019.
It also appears that Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes will not make it to St. Louis as starters this year. Martinez has started a rehab assignment, but the Cardinals have said he is slated for the bullpen in 2019. Reyes is still trying to find his control in AAA Memphis and a return to St. Louis is uncertain at this point.
With these concerns and the Toronto Blue Jays recent news they may be willing to depart with two quality starters, should the St. Louis Cardinals pursue a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays?
Blue Jays going young
According to the Sportsnet report, with the recent call up of 20-year-old whiz-kid Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays want to get more talent in the age range of Guerrero. Therefore, the Blue Jays are willing to part with some of their talent, even some under 30.
The names mentioned that could be shopped around by the Blue Jays are right-handed pitchers, 28-year old Marcus Stroman, and 26-year old Aaron Sanchez. Also, 32-year old first baseman Justin Smoak was mentioned as possible trade bait.
The Cardinals need another first baseman like they need another IL stint by Wacha, so let’s throw Smoak out of this conversation. However, Stroman and Sanchez are two players worth looking at for a possible trade match up between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Stroman was the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Blue Jays out of Duke University. He flew through the Blue Jays minor league system and was called up on May 3, 2014 to replace Brandon Morrow who had been placed on the 60-Day DL. The New York native made 20 starts and threw 130 innings in 2014 for a 11-6 record a 3.65 ERA, with 111 SO and 28 BB.
During Spring Training in 2015, Stroman tore a ACL in his left knee and after surgery, was not activated until September. Regardless, he started four games, pitched 27 innings and had a 4-0 record with a 1.67 ERA. He also started in three games in the 2015 postseason against the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.
Stroman has a six pitch selection. He can throw, a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a curveball, a change-up, a slider, and a cutter. His best pitch is considered to be his two-seamer, which averages out to 92 mph, and throws approximately 44% of the time.
Marcus Stroman has a six-year ERA of 3.81 and has pitched over 200 innings twice in his career. He won a Gold Glove Award in 2017 and placed eighth in the Cy Young Award voting. Currently, Stroman has a 2.20 ERA in seven starts and 41 innings in 2019.
Stroman is arbitration eligible in 2020 and a free agent in 2021.
Sanchez was the 34th selection in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Blue Jays. After being used as a starter and bullpen in the minor leagues, Sanchez was called up by the Blue Jays on July 22, 2014 to pitch out of the bullpen.
The California native was an effective tool who the Blue Jays used out of the bullpen in 2014. He pitched 33 innings, with 27 strikeouts and giving up only nine walks, while earning an 1.09 ERA. The right hander was expected to pitch out of the bullpen in 2015, but due to injuries, he became the fifth starter for the Blue Jays coming out of Spring Training. Used primarily as a starter, with occasional trips to the bullpen, Sanchez was 7-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 2015.
Sanchez’s best year was in 2016, when he was 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 192 innings pitched and made an All Star appearance. So far in 2019, Sanchez has a 3-2 record with a 3.09 ERA in 35 innings pitched. The 6-4 210lb right hander has a six-year ERA of 3.41 and a postseason ERA of 3.32 in 11 games.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to mention Aaron Sanchez without delving into his finger issues. He dealt with a blister on his throwing hand all of 2017 that shredded his index nail into something unsightly. While he is looking better this year, issues with his nail have already come back, and it will be a question mark moving forward.
The 26-year old’s pitching repertoire is a fastball in the mid-90s, a plus curveball, and a decent change-up.
Aaron Sanchez is arbitration eligible in 2020 and a free agent in 2021.
What the Cardinals can offer.
The Sportsnet report says the Blue Jays want to go young. Real young apparently, when you consider Stroman and Sanchez are 28 and 26 respectively. If the Blue Jays want to trade for players in their late teens and early 20’s, then the St. Louis Cardinals may be able to accommodate them.
The Cardinals minor league system is well stocked at the corner infield positions, the outfield, and some pitching. Presumably, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr will be established at third base for the Blue Jays for several years to come. Young Cardinal prospects at that position, such as Nolan Gorman (18), Elehuris Montero (20), and Malcom Nunez (18) may not interest them. However, one of these three prospects could be developed into future first baseman.
Outfield prospects Dylan Carson (20) and Jhon Torres (19) are highly regarded prospects in the Cardinals minor league system and could interest the Blue Jays. The Cardinals also have two pitching prospects in Griffin Roberts (22) and lefty Steven Gringery (21) who could be interesting for the Blue Jays.
If the Sportsnet report is accurate, and the Blue Jays want more talent in the Guerrero age range and service range in order to rebuild, then a trade for either Stroman or Sanchez could be a real possibility for the Cardinals.
I’m not advocating trading all the prospects listed above, but there is a log jam in the Cardinal organization for these positions. Eventually, some of these prospects may be moved by the organization anyway.
For 2019, the Cardinals may find themselves in a need for a rotation ready pitcher who can step in right away and make an immediate impact. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez fit this bill. A trade of two or three prospects may be enough for the Blue Jays to send the Cardinals one of these pitchers.
It’s too early to give up on the current Cardinal rotation, but the day may soon come when the St. Louis Cardinals will need to make a trade in order to stay competitive in the NL Pennant race.