John Gant, who the St. Louis Cardinals traded at the July 31 deadline, is headed overseas.
At the trade deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals made a series of surprising moves. But there was no more of a shock than trading right-hander John Gant to the Minnesota Twins for left-hander J.A. Happ.
There had been rumblings that Gant was available, but trading for Happ was … odd. The trade worked out for the Cardinals, with Happ posting a 4.00 ERA and 45/17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54 innings, and providing meaningful innings that a depleted starting rotation desperately needed.
The trade also worked out for the Twins. Gant, 29, cut down significantly on his walks – 15 walks in 33.2 innings with the Twins; 56 walks in 76.1 innings with the Cardinals – and pitched meaningfully better than his 5.61 ERA (4.00 FIP). Even then, the Twins released Gant after the season, and he is now in agreement on a deal with the NPB’s Nippon-Ham Fighters, according to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors.
It’s relatively surprising that Gant couldn’t find a major-league deal, let alone a minor-league deal. While he has had issues with control, he has a very solid 3.89 ERA in six seasons. Perhaps he can use the time away from MLB to work on improving his control and cutting down on walks (200 in 372.2 innings). But it’s clear that the Cardinals were smart to move on for Gant and despite getting a 39-year-old pitcher in return, got the better end of the deal at the trade deadline. It ultimately may have gotten them a playoff berth when the odds were literally less than one percent.
This should not be the last we see from Gant, however, as he is surely going to get another opportunity in MLB. He has experience as both a starter and reliever and considering his upside, could be back in time for the 2023 season.