The A’s are the perfect trade partner for St. Louis Cardinals

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John Mozeliak (L) and Bill DeWitt, Jr. managing partner and chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals talk in the dugout prior to a game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on September 29, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
John Mozeliak (L) and Bill DeWitt, Jr. managing partner and chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals talk in the dugout prior to a game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on September 29, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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The Oakland A’s are an ideal trade partner for Cardinals, and present exactly what St. Louis needs.

The The St. Louis Cardinals need starting pitching, but adding it won’t be easy or cheap. Noah Syndergaard, Eduardo Rodriguez and Justin Verlander all signed lucrative contracts, setting the stone for what will be an expensive winter for free-agent starting pitchers.

So, it would not be a surprise if the Cardinals explored the trade market. And if they do, the Oakland A’s make a *lot* of sense as a potential trade partner.

The A’s have a lot of intriguing trade chips and, before losing manager Bob Melvin to the Padres, there were rumblings they would sell some of those pieces off to save money. The Melvin departure only increased those chances and left the door open for teams, especially the Cardinals, to take advantage.

It starts with Frankie Montas, the talented 28-year-old left-hander, who posted a 3.37 ERA in 187 innings last season. He is arbitration eligible through 2024, meaning he would be in the Cardinals’ rotation for at least a couple seasons, and form a formidable 1-2 punch alongside Jack Flaherty. Of course, acquiring him would mean 1) giving up a considerable haul of prospects and 2) looking to extend him, which could be tough with a potential Flaherty extension looming.

A more realistic option could be Sean Manaea, a 29-year-old left-hander, who posted a 3.91 ERA in 179.1 innings. He has talent, and a lot of it. He might be someone team’s view as a candidate to take the next step with a change of scenery, meaning the market for him could be saturated, meaning the price to acquire him will be high. But if you’re a team in need of starting pitching, either Montas or Manaea is worth it. They are both good, have upside, and are signed for 2022 at a cheap rate (Manaea is a free agent after 2022, however).

Will the Cardinals be interested in both? Probably. But they have made it clear that despite re-signing Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, they will not make a move just to make a move. It needs to make sense for them, both short and long-term, and if the asking price isn’t too outrageous, you can expect them to be involved to some extent.

But the price for both is likely going to be out of their comfort zone, so unless something changes, look for both players to be playing somewhere besides St. Louis in 2022.

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