Could the St. Louis Cardinals be involved in an NBA-esque mega trade?
By Matt Benson
How could the St. Louis Cardinals hypothetically be involved in an NBA-style super trade?
The NBA super-trade of James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets from the Houston Rockets was confirmed on Thursday January 14. To get the trade over the line, this ended up including both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers also. If there were to be a similar style trade in Major League Baseball, how could the St. Louis Cardinals be involved in this?
Agreed, it is essentially comparing apples and pears looking at an NBA trade and translating into the MLB. Though if such a trade were to happen involving the St. Louis Cardinals, lets take a look at how the Redbirds could fit into each of the different roles of the teams involved.
St. Louis Cardinals as the Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets received star shooting guard James Harden and a second round pick, giving up Caris Levert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Rodions Kurucs, three first round picks and four pick swaps in return. Absolutely the blockbuster trade of the year in the NBA.
If the Cards were to take up the Brooklyn Nets role in this fictional trade, they’d be looking at parting with some big-name young players as well as some of their MLB ready outfield/catching talent. In return, they would get a big name who could have an immediate impact on this team.
Realistically, one player can’t make that much of a difference in Major League Baseball as much as they can in the NBA. Though if the Cards were to make a move for a Jose Ramirez, for example, this would certainly make a significant uptick for 2021. Unsurprisingly with any trade like this, the Cards would be required to give up an absolute haul of talent.
The Cleveland Indians appear to be moving into a re-building phase after moving on from Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, Carlos Santana, Brad Hand, Mike Clevinger, and Corey Kluber in recent years. With only a few key pieces left on the team, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if they were to move on from the perennial MVP-candidate Ramirez.
In order to make something wild like this happen, the St. Louis Cardinals would likely need to be parting way with a number of their key youth talent like Nolan Gorman, Matthew Liberatore, Zack Thompson and an MLB ready piece or two like Andrew Knizner and Tyler O’Neill.
St. Louis Cardinals as the Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets wanted a haul for James Harden and they got exactly that. They received Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Victor Oladipo, four first-round picks and four pick swaps, with James Harden and a second round pick moving the other way.
If the Cardinals were to take on the role of the Houston Rockets, that would involve shipping out a premium high value talent and receiving some key young talent back in return.
The highest value MLB-ready talent in the St. Louis Cardinals organization right now is Jack Flaherty. Therefore this scenario would have to involve Jack Flaherty leaving the Redbirds in return for a sizeable yield of prospects.
The most recent similar trade to this would be the New York Mets acquisition of Francisco Lindor, in which they returned three prospects and a current MLB player to the Cleveland Indians including two of their top ten prospects.
If the Redbirds were to move Jack Flaherty, a possible trade candidate could be the Seattle Mariners or the Tampa Bay Rays who both have four top 50 prospects and MLB ready players who could make an immediate impact in Missouri.
It would certainly be a step backwards from a rotation perspective losing our key piece for the future. With uncertainty around Flaherty’s future and whether he will re-sign after the 2023 season, this could be a key way for the St. Louis Cardinals to have a real run at a World Series later in the decade.
St. Louis Cardinals as the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs essentially gave up a first and second round pick, along with Dante Exum, in exchange for Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince of the Brooklyn Nets. These two are young and controllable pieces who are league ready and have experience.
Were the Cardinals to partake in another teams similar franchise-altering trade by taking up the role of the Cavaliers, we would see the Cards moving one or two of their lower level prospects and picking up some younger major league ready talent.
This move could look something along the lines of the Redbirds moving on from Roel Ramirez and recently drafted Alec Burleson, with the team receiving some MLB talent like Tarik Skubal or Garrett Crochet in return.
Obviously this wouldn’t be a straight up trade and involved within a wider piece with the Cards just involved in moving some pieces around. But if it were possible to bring in some recent MLB-ready talent for some prospects at the lower end of the Cards top 30 then that could be a great plus for the team.
St. Louis Cardinals as the Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers moved on disgruntled star Victor Oladipo, receiving a younger version in Caris LeVert and a second round pick. Oladipo has recently returned from injury and hasn’t quite returned back to his previous form, with most believing a change of scenery and team could help re-invigorate his career.
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The scenario for the Cardinals doing this would be to see an older ex-star like Matt Carpenter moved on in return for a younger model to play at third who is less established in the role. Carpenter has struggled in recent years at Busch Stadium, so perhaps a new location for the three time all-star could help give a last minute push to his career.
With the Redbirds already holding Nolan Gorman and Jordan Walker for prospective third base roles in the future this may not necessarily be the best option. Therefore if the Cards could look at recouping some young talent at second or first then that could be a great scenario to move on from Carpenter and save on his exorbitant contract.
It would be messy, it would be damned exciting and it would be something to heat up this freezing cold hot stove for the St. Louis Cardinals! I’ll stay here wishing that it happens, but most importantly just keep wishing for baseball to return as we know it soon!