Cardinals Rumors: St. Louis exploring trades for offensive upgrades

The St. Louis Cardinals need offensive upgrades, and according to a report, may get creative in trying to fill that need.

The St. Louis Cardinals are exploring “cash-neutral” trades this winter, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who did not list what teams the Cardinals have spoken to.

However, Goold believes that the framework of a potential deal would involve moving major-league level pitching for an impact offensive player. Such a move would make sense for the Cardinals. They had one of the worst offenses in the National League last year, seeing especially poor production from the outfielders, and lack a capable threat to pair alongside Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup.

The need for additional lineup help is especially glaring with the absence of Kolten Wong and increasing possibility that Yadier Molina plays elsewhere next season. The needs, in the scenario that both players do not return, would mean the Cardinals would need upgrades in the outfield, second base and catcher. And for a team whose owner claimed that the baseball industry “is not very profitable,” it means president of baseball operations John Mozeliak will have to get creative.

Which is why the idea of a “cash-neutral” trade makes sense for the Cardinals. The obvious candidate is Carlos Martinez, who is making north of $10 million in each of the next two seasons. Yet, even for a player as talented as Martinez is, he is just as frustrating. He has underperformed and comes with concerns off the field. The Cardinals have looked to trade him for the past 12-18 months and the fact they have found no takers is telling.

It will make not just trading him, but acquiring a talented offensive piece in return, a difficult task for Mozeliak and the front office. To get value in return, the Cardinals may have to pair him with a prospect or two, and it is unclear if they will be willing to do so.

But it is obvious that the Cardinals need to upgrade the offense this winter – perhaps in a big way. Their chances of winning the National League Central depend on it.