Rotation help. Bullpen. A starting pitcher or two. With five days until the July 30 trade deadline, what should the St Louis Cardinals do?
We have spent the last month speculating what the St. Louis Cardinals are going to do at the July 30 trade deadline. Trade for a starting pitcher? Bolster an already strong bullpen? Add another bat alongside Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado?
The consensus in recent weeks is that the Cardinals will either stand pat or make small upgrades to a pitching staff that has been crushed by injuries. But what should they do? It’s something that Zachary Silver of MLB.com was asked and his answer was something that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has surely considered: adding a piece that helps the team win in 2021 and 2022.
“So that leaves two options: buying, or holding pat,” Silver wrote. “If the former option, the Cards would likely target a starter — and one with control past 2021. Think Kyle Gibson, Matthew Boyd or José Berríos (if they’re willing to make a splashier deal).”
Gibson and Boyd both come with questions. Gibson has an ERA north of 8 in the second half of the season, with scouts believing he is coming back down to earth after a strong start to the season, and relaying concerns that his lack of overpowering strikeout stuff would lessen his impact in the postseason. Boyd, meanwhile, is 30 and has a 3.44 ERA this season, though he is coming off a season in which he posted a 6.71 ERA in 60.1 innings. The year before that, he allowed 39 home runs, which were easily the most of his career.
The most attractive option is Berrios, who is under contract until 2023, though there are still questions whether the Minnesota Twins would trade him. But if he’s available, and he might be after extension talks with Byron Buxton fizzled, the Cardinals would be smart to poke around. That said, the asking price is said to be insane, with Dan Hayes of The Athletic reporting that earlier this month that, “Early indications are the Twins asked another team that inquired about Berríos for a pre-arb player and two top-100 prospects.”
That price should way exceed what the Cardinals are willing to surrender. But if any of the above options, or even other controllable starting pitchers, become available at a cheap price, Mozeliak is sure to be calling on the other line. But in a market that is starved for starting pitching, affordable rotation help will be borderline impossible to come by.