St. Louis Cardinals: Looking at potential deadline moves

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 23: Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 23: Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

If previous seasons are any indication, the St. Louis Cardinals will be buyers at the trade deadline again, and there are many options for the team to consider.

The trade deadline is approaching, and with the new rule stipulating that this is the final opportunity for trades to be made, we could be in for a whirlwind of activity. John Mozeliak, the St. Louis Cardinals‘ president of baseball operations, has remained mostly tight-lipped about the team’s approach this year.

A previous article touched on Mozeliak’s quip about the deadline having a sense of “finality” to it. He also recently said in an interview with KMOX that the decisions will partly be based on whether the team is in a position to win the division or to be a wild card team. He also said that some players coming back from the injured list would be like making a big trade.

These are interesting quotes, and the latter could be interpreted as Mozeliak not wanting to be active, but assuming the Cardinals have a chance at the division title and are willing to wheel and deal, there is no shortage of talent on the trading block.

The Cardinals have some definite roster holes that need to be filled if they want to be a serious contender. The pitching rotation is shaky, with Adam Wainwright and Dakota Hudson being the team’s most reliable starters. Another problem is the team’s offense. While the Cardinals put on an offensive clinic in April, the offense has mostly gone dormant since.

The bullpen, while strong so far this season, could still be bolstered. Jordan Hicks will be out for the season, and reinforcements never hurt. Will Smith is likely the most enticing option as a combination of his productivity and left-handedness, and an article from Joshua Magee touched on why he could be a good target. Tony Watson is another productive lefty who is likely to be dealt.

Madison Bumgarner could be a rental option if the Cardinals choose to be aggressive in repairing their rotation. This article discusses how he could help the team and if he is worth the hefty price. Zack Greinke is another far-fetched but fun-to-dream-on option. He is older than Bumgarner, but he doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Marcus Stroman is a ground-ball specialist who could be more than just a rental, as he is still under team control beyond this season.

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In a more affordable (and realistic) scenario, Craig Stammen and Sergio Romo are two solid right-handed relievers who could be on the move, and they won’t cost much. Greg Holland could even be eyed as a reclamation project after his disastrous tenure with the team last year.

From a position player standpoint, the pool is much smaller. It isn’t a given that Whit Merrifield is even on the market, but there will be many offers for the Royals’ stolen-base threat. The Cardinals would likely have to give up a Nolan Gorman-like talent, and that would be a tough pill to swallow.

The Cardinals don’t have a position that is substantially weaker than the others, and with Marcell Ozuna likely returning from injury soon, there isn’t much reason to aggressively go after a position player. Nearly all of the team’s hitters are underachieving, but because many have demonstrated in the past what they can do, it’s much harder to give up on them than if the players didn’t have proven track records.

As for players the Cardinals could give up in a trade, there aren’t many at the major league level who will likely net substantial returns. Paul DeJong is likely off the table; the Cardinals’ lone All-Star this year has a bright future with the club and looks to be the team’s shortstop for years to come.

Jose Martinez is a possibility to be traded. As much as fans will miss his hitting and lively clubhouse presence, his poor defense makes him appear as a future designated hitter, so an American League club could come calling. But the Cardinals could be hoping that the DH rule comes to the National League next year, in which case Martinez would be worth keeping.

Most other players on the Cardinals aren’t worth getting excited about. Kolten Wong, while solid defensively, hasn’t taken the step forward at the plate he looked to have taken early in the season. Harrison Bader is speedy and flashy in the field, but his hitting woes are worse than Wong’s.

Michael Wacha was recently moved to the bullpen, and he looks to be the odd man out. The Cardinals will likely try to move him, but the returns will probably be less than impressive.

In the minor leagues, Gorman and Dylan Carlson are off the table, according to a KMOX interview with Mozeliak. Jake Woodford and Randy Arozarena are producing on the farm and could be candidates to net some major-league talent.

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The Cardinals traditionally haven’t gone after the big names at the trade deadline, but if they’re serious about contending this season, it might be the right time to do it. The next two weeks will be huge in determining how likely it will be for them to contend and how aggressive the front office might be at the deadline.