The St. Louis Cardinals are unlikely to trade for a starting pitcher, and it all comes down to the astronomical asking prices.
At this point, it’s well-established that the St. Louis Cardinals have made addressing their starting rotation their No. 1 priority this winter. They have missed on a few of their targets, including Alex Wood, Alex Cobb and Andrew Heaney, but they are actively working the phones trying to add a starter.
That means both in free agency and in trades, but it seems unlikely that a starter is acquired via trade. The asking price, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has largely been Nolan Gorman, Jordan Walker, Matthew Liberatore or “the prospects the Cardinals have zero interest in trading.”
“The Cardinals remain convinced that free agency is the way to go,” Goold wrote.
With starting pitchers in high-demand, it’s little surprise that teams are asking for the moon for their starting pitchers. It’s common for asking prices to be astronomical at this time of the year. But there is no way that the Cardinals trade any of those three. Gorman is the second or third baseman of the future. Liberatore is a top-of-the-rotation arm on the verge of debuting. Walker has been publicly praised by the front office, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak saying that only Albert Pujols and Oscar Taveras have had similar success as Walker at his age (21).
It’s unclear, however, what players the Cardinals asked about in trade talks. The names have been mentioned in trade rumors include Cincinnati Reds pitchers Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, Oakland A’s pitchers Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea, as well as any Miami Marlins starter not named Sandy Alcantara.
It would be an upset if the Cardinals didn’t sign a starter before the Dec. 1 lockout. Steven Matz is a player of interest and will sign soon. Max Scherzer is on their radar and so is Marcus Stroman, but both come with astronomical asking prices, which could make each unlikely to end up in St. Louis.
To add an impact starter, however, the Cardinals will have to get uncomfortable with financials. There is no way around it, especially if they want Scherzer, Stroman or Matz.