The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to have flexibility at the trade deadline, and have the financial resources available to make a big move.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ biggest offseason addition was Steven Matz on a four-year, $44 million contract. It was not the blockbuster move that some observers, myself included, thought they would – and should – make, but it improved their rotation.
Other additions included Albert Pujols, Corey Dickerson, Nick Wittgren, Drew VerHagen and T.J. McFarland, among others. Their payroll for 2022 is $163 million, according to FanGraphs, which is actually lower than the 2021 payroll of $168 million.
The lower payroll means one thing: the Cardinals have flexibility to make moves – potentially a big one – at the trade deadline to address their needs. They have a glaring need in the rotation, especially with Jack Flaherty out, and at shortstop, with Paul DeJong failing to take the reins of the position despite the organization going out of its way to publicly support him.
The starting pitcher market is going to be flush with options, and the top available is going to be Oakland A’s starter Frankie Montas. He was connected to the Cardinals in the spring, though it was believed to be more exploratory interest than anything. But Montas would give them another frontline starter who is signed through the 2023 season.
Montas is just one of the options that the Cardinals can, and will, consider. The shortstop market became increasingly murker, however, especially after they passed up Trevor Story, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in what was regarded as the best free-agent shortstop class in MLB history.
The Cardinals will evaluate their options, though, and still have over two months to do so. This is just an early look at their current situation and more needs could present themselves. Of course, the rotation could stabilize and DeJong could take hold of the shortstop position.
But the Cardinals will have flexibility at the trade deadline. It’ll be curious to see just exactly how they use it.