As the St. Louis Cardinals look to add starting pitching talent, they missed on one trade already. What would a similar package have looked like?
Late July is always a bit of a whirlwind because of the Trade Deadline. With about 48 hours remaining to make trades, the St. Louis Cardinals are shopping for a starting pitcher and a lefty reliever. Unfortunately, they already missed out on one big name.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and the Cardinals might be looking at bigger fish to fry, but in my opinion, my number one choice for who to acquire at the deadline was Marcus Stroman. He is now a member of the New York Mets… for some reason.
Stroman has been a stud this year with a 2.96 ERA over 21 starts and does his damage on the mound by getting ground balls and limiting homers. He has struggled with command at times slightly with a 2.5 BB/9 but after a bad year last year, Stroman has returned to his career norms this year.
A free agent in 2021, Stroman would’ve been the Cardinals best pitcher immediately and he is still just 28 years old. The All-Star pitcher now has the worst fielding infield in the NL behind him in the Mets, and while the trade, in general, makes no sense, even 24 hours+ later, but depending on the rest of the Mets moves, it may make more sense after Wednesday’s deadline.
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In all honesty, writing this article is pointless torture as Stroman is a Met and it’s not exactly likely they flip him again. However, by my measure, the Mets acquired Stroman for a bit of a steal.
Going back to the Blue Jays are the Mets’ #4 and #6 prospects, LHP Anthony Kay and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson. Kay was the Mets’ first-rounder in 2016 and is pitching in AAA at the age of 24. Despite being the Mets best pitching prospect, Kay is not ranked in the top 100 prospects in the sport. Woods-Richardson is just 18 and is currently in A-Ball.
While Kay has the potential to impact the MLB level this year, he really only projects as a “low-end No. 3 or No. 4 starter” according to SNY.com. Woods-Richardson was drafted in the second round last year and is the high-upside potential piece, the only problem is that he is still so far from the Majors that there is a lot of stuff still in the air.
Compared to all we were told about what Stroman was going to cost, this was a bit of a surprise that the Mets gave up so little. For more torture, what would a comparable deal look like in terms of Cardinals prospects?
We have no clue how the actual negotiations went with between any of the clubs, but it’s clear the Blue Jays wanted pitching. Looking at the Cardinals top ten prospects, the easy comp would be this year’s first-rounder, Zack Thompson and Ryan Helsley. Thompson projects as a quick-rising, middle-of-the-rotation starter and Helsley is obviously closer to the Majors than Woods-Richardson, but Helsley’s fireballing arm holds a fair amount of value.
Looking at a comp through MLB.com’s “overall value” metric that they give prospects, both Kay and Woods-Richardson are graded at a 50 on that future value scale. Looking at Thompson (50) and Helsley (50), it looks like that combo would grade out pretty well as a package that would’ve given the Blue Jays similar value.
There is, of course, the rule that forbids recent draftees from being traded yet, but as has happened with Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson in the past, recent draftee Zack Thompson could be named as a Player To Be Named Later and get traded to the Blue Jays when the World Series finishes.
There was much talk about the price of Stroman and there was nobody who even remotely guessed that Stroman would get moved without a top-100 prospect in return, but I guess everyone was wrong. In hindsight, acquiring Stroman without giving up Dylan Carlson or Nolan Gorman would’ve been huge for this team. This looked like a price the Cardinals could’ve easily matched or beat, but there remains the option of a bigger fish to catch on the open market.
This was a bit of a depressing exercise to do, but don’t get mad (yet) about the Cardinals not acquiring Stroman. He may have been my first choice, but according to the weekly Derrick Goold chat, he wasn’t high on the Cardinals list. If the team is able to pull off a trade for Robbie Ray or Noah Syndergaard, missing on Stroman won’t matter one bit.