St. Louis Cardinals: Is Mike Tauchman a good trade target?

Aug 31, 2020; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Mike Tauchman (39) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2020; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Mike Tauchman (39) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals need power in a big way. Does Mike Tauchman of the Yankees fit as a good trade target for the team?

There have been a lot of players in the past decade that the St. Louis Cardinals have found seemingly out of nowhere and made into major league regulars. Matt Carpenter, Jose Martinez, Matt Adams, and more were never highly rated prospects but came up and have been valuable contributors at multiple points in their career.

Carpenter didn’t debut until he was 25 and Martinez didn’t debut until he was 27. This is an archetype of player that the Cardinals excel with and the good thing is that the majority of these players are relatively cheap.

This winter, the Cardinals are going to need any option they bring in to be affordable as they try and make the team better while managing salary. Over the past few months, many players have been discussed that fit this bill, but one that has not been discussed yet is Mike Tauchman of the Yankees.

Like Carpenter and Martinez, Tauchman was a late bloomer. Making his debut as a 26-year-old in 2017 with Colorado, he played in just 52 games his first two seasons with poor results on the stat sheet. Late in spring training before 2019, Tauchman was traded to the Yankees where things would turn around for him.

As a left-handed outfielder, Yankee Stadium treated Tauchman well. In 87 games in 2019, Tauchman hit for a slash line of .277/.361/.504 with 13 homers. This was good for a 128 wRC+, but his expected statistics all agree that luck was on Tauchman’s side in 2019.

In 2020, Tauchman flipped the other way and underperformed his expected stats. His .242/.342/.305 slash line over 43 games was only good for a 79 wRC+ and he didn’t hit a single homer. The worst part of the change between 2019 and 2020 was in his slugging which dropped nearly 200 points.

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Digging a little deeper, the reason why the backslide occurred is clear: Tauchman couldn’t hit a fastball to save his life in 2020. In 2019, his slash line against the pitch was .286 with a .537 slugging percentage. In 2020, that fell to a .189 batting average and just a .264 slugging percentage.

Tauchman lowered his strikeout percentage and raised his walk percentage, but it’s unclear where his power went from 2019. The signs of regression were there in 2019 as his expected batting average and slugging percentage were .262 and .456, respectively. However, playing in the same Yankee Stadium half the time shouldn’t have let his power drop that drastically.

Sadly, Tauchman’s 2019 now looks like the outlier between three other subpar years, but it is important to remember that Tauchman’s 2019 sample was much greater than his other three years combined. Between 2017, 2018, and 2020, Tauchman had 180 total plate appearances. In 2019 alone, he had 296 before a calf injury cut his season short. 

Tauchman may not sound like a player who would move the needle much, but he’s drawing interest on the Yankees’ side. Derrick Goold also threw out Tauchman’s name as someone to keep an eye on in his most recent online chat.

Being a late bloomer, Tauchman is 30 but is still making league-minimum and isn’t arbitration-eligible until next year. This means a team that acquires Tauchman has him for four seasons. His age and 2019 season is the only thing keeping his value up right now, but I would definitely put him as an under-the-radar acquisition to watch for.

There is very little monetary risk in trading for Tauchman and it is unclear what his price would be. There aren’t many players with a past like Tauchman who are traded often. The trade relationship is there between the Cardinals and Yankees though.

On my own list, I’d rather the Cardinals go after a different New York outfielder in Clint Frazier, but there is likely a price difference there. If Tauchman’s price is reasonable, there is a chance he reverts back to his 2019 self even if his other seasons haven’t screamed “everyday player.”

Tauchman is definitely the type of player the Cardinals excel at getting the most from, but there is always the question of whether or not his ceiling, or even what we could call his “most likely outcome,” for the future is much more than Tyler O’Neill. He has some speed and is an above-average defender in the outfield, but that sounds a lot like what the team has right now.

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Adding in Tauchman could be a great move but he seems more like a lottery ticket at this point. I don’t love Tauchman, but it does feel like a very “Cardinals” type of guy to trade for.