Underrated trade option that the St. Louis Cardinals should explore

The St. Louis Cardinals are likely to be in the market for a starting pitcher, and Chad Kuhl could be an underrated trade option that they explore.

Perhaps the best value signing of the offseason was the Colorado Rockies’ one-year, $3 million contract with right-hander Chad Kuhl. And with the Rockies likely to sell once again at the trade deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals could be in position to pounce.

Kuhl, 29, has posted a 3.86 ERA and 30/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven starts (37.1 innings). He is allowing less hits per nine innings (7.5 in 2022; 8.2 in 2021) and less walks per nine innings (3.1 in 2022; 4.7 in 2021. The sample size is small, of course, but he has a 3.43 road ERA in 21 innings and is striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings.

Kuhl’s numbers at Coors Field are inflated, as one would expect, but not by much. He has a 4.41 ERA in 16.1 innings and his strikeout rate is significantly lower (4.4 strikeouts per nine innings). But it’s fun to imagine what the new-look Kuhl would look like away from Coors Field and the Cardinals, who got an up-close look at the right-hander when he pitched for the Pirates, could perhaps emerge as an option.

It’s just speculation and nothing more than that. But it makes sense. The Cardinals are most likely going to be in the market for a starting pitcher in July and are already being linked to Frankie Montas, the top pitcher on the market. Montas might be too rich for their liking and thus they could explore secondary options.

Which is where Kuhl would fit in. He is a much younger, higher upside version of J.A. Happ and Jon Lester at virtually the same contract. The price to acquire Kuhl will be more than both Happ or Lester, however, but it won’t cost any of their top prospects. It may not even require one of their top 15 prospects.

That would surely be appealing to president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. There will be many other options that the Cardinals consider in the next couple months, but Kuhl figures to be one of them.