John Mozeliak (2007-2017)
Biggest win: Matt Holliday
Biggest loss: Colby Rasmus
Total WAR gain: 77.4
Total WAR loss: 36.9
John Mozeliak took the reins after Jocketty’s firing in 2007, and one of his first moves was to trade Jim Edmonds to the San Diego Padres for third baseman and future World Series hero David Freese. But Mozeliak’s most influential trade was getting outfielder Matt Holliday from the Oakland Athletics for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson. Holliday would go on to have an excellent career with the Cardinals and accumulate a WAR of 26.6 with the team.
It’s hard to find a trade in the Mozeliak era (at least with him as the general manager) that failed. Outfielder Colby Rasmus had the biggest impact by WAR for either team, putting up a 6.1 WAR after being dealt, but it’s very hard to see that trade as anything but a success given the 2011 World Series title.
The trade of pitcher Luke Gregerson to the Padres as the player to be named later as well as Mark Worrell in exchange for shortstop Khalil Greene could go down as the most lopsided deal in the Mozeliak GM era. Greene struggled with his mental health while with the Cardinals and was away from the team for most of his time there. Gregerson proved to be a solid relief pitcher for several years with the Padres.
Mike Girsch (2017-present)
Biggest win: Paul Goldschmidt
Biggest loss: Marco Gonzales
Total WAR gain (as of 2020): 14.6
Total WAR loss (as of 2020): 44.5
It’s not known how much influence Mike Girsch has over the Cardinals’ trades since he took over as general manager after John Mozeliak was promoted to president of baseball operations, but the results lately have stung. Paul Goldschmidt holds the top WAR for the Cardinals during the Girsch era at 7.3, and Marcell Ozuna is second at 5.3.
The players the Cardinals have sent away recently have been a source of many lamentations, but surprisingly, it’s Seattle Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales who has the highest WAR of players the team traded under Girsch, at 9.6.
The trade of pitcher Zac Gallen could look worse in a few years, as he has emerged as an ace for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The deal of Luke Voit to the New York Yankees for Giovanny Gallegos has proven beneficial for both teams, and while it was hard to watch Randy Arozarena go ape in the 2020 playoffs, he hasn’t consistently shown that level of dominance this year. Matthew Liberatore, one of the players the Cardinals acquired for Arozarena, could easily have the better career.
The years with Girsch as the general manager have been rocky, but we still have to see how several of these players’ careers go from here. It could look worse, but we could also see some long-term WAR adjustment for the better.
If we go by the total WAR for each general manager since 1955, Walt Jocketty has proven to be the best, with a total WAR of 107.3. The worst was Bing Devine in his second go with the Cardinals, losing 160.7 points of WAR.
I found this program illustrating the Cardinals’ trade history to be fascinating, and I hoped that dividing the list into eras of separate general managers would be interesting. And always remember that while the trades could be better, they could also be a lot worse. Just think of Stan Musial in a Phillies uniform.