While grabbing pitching might seem to be the optimal move for the St. Louis Cardinals, there’s reason to believe they should sit this deadline out.
The St. Louis Cardinals should roost and preen their feathers this year while other teams are wheeling and dealing. Although starting pitching is a need, the Cardinals should play it safe this time around and keep the players they have.
I, like all fans, want the Cardinals to field a World Series contender every season. But while the NL Central seems ripe for the taking, the benefit from acquiring a pitcher likely wouldn’t be worth the price.
The Cardinals have had sustained success partially by not depleting the farm system when acquiring players, thus allowing multiple waves of homegrown talent to flourish. While I understand that giving up possible future contributors to get players who can help the club now is often a good move, it’s not the move they should make here.
For one, the starting pitching market isn’t great. Frankie Montas of the Oakland A’s is probably the best option available, and although he looks to have avoided injury after his early departure from a game on July 3 where he displayed diminished velocity, it’s still concerning when the best option is suddenly an injury risk.
Beyond Montas, there aren’t many big names being thrown out in trade rumors. Madison Bumgarner is having a decent season at age 32, but he’s not someone I want to pay a hefty price for. The same goes for the often-injured Michael Pineda and the ghost of Zack Greinke.
The Cardinals have also had players in the minor leagues get off to scorching starts. Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, Gordon Graceffo and Moises Gomez are among several Cardinals farmhands playing well. Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Zack Thompson and Brendan Donovan have already shown that they can play at the highest level. I don’t want to give any of these guys up for a middling pitcher. The Rule 5 draft also appears to be history, so there is no longer a repercussion for having such a solid farm system.
This is a transitional season for the Cardinals. The one-year signing of Albert Pujols and the final years of Yadier Molina and possibly Adam Wainwright mean that a youth movement is coming to St. Louis next year. While it would be romantic for the three of them to hoist the World Series trophy one more time, I don’t think trading for one of the available pitchers is going to get the team over the hump to win a championship, and the loss of a prospect or two in an attempt at a doomed title run could be felt in time.
Top free agent pitchers next year include Noah Syndergaard, Nathan Eovaldi, Clayton Kershaw and Sean Manaea, and I would be all for the Cardinals going after one of them in the offseason. The draft will help too, of course. The Cardinals should target pitching early. Polished college arms are the team’s forte, and it would serve them well to grab a few this year too.
The front offices of good teams are able to keep one eye on the present and another on the future, and while the Cardinals’ brass can be more conservative and risk-averse than I’d like at times, this is a year where that strategy needs to be put to use. Use what you have now and hope for luck to break your way, and realize that pastures are likely to be much greener next season.