The St. Louis Cardinals have a major need at starting pitching for 2022 and 2023, and should use Harrison Bader as a trade chip to acquire impact arms.
On June 27, the St. Louis Cardinals placed Gold Glove centerfielder Harrison Bader on the injured list with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Bader has been a key contributor for the club over the last few seasons, and any team would miss his glove and energy in their lineup.
But sometimes, injuries to key players give teams a moment to consider their long term options. Bader will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and the club already has three other controllable outfielders on the big league roster in Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, and Brendan Donovan.
Carlson is a large reason why this idea has begun to gain traction around Cardinals circles. The 23 year old outfielder has filled in seamlessly in centerfield, providing elite defense and a better bat than Bader. Carlson appears to be stepping up to the plate, both literally and figuratively, in the absence of Bader.
The Cardinals also face a bit of a log jam long term at the position. Outside of the current options on the roster, top prospect Jordan Walker will likely need to fill in at a corner outfield spot next season if he continues his meteoric rise. Juan Yepez could see time in the corner spots, and names like Lars Nootbaar, Moises Gomez, and Jhon Torres can be inexpensive 4th outfield options for the club.
Trading Harrison Bader between now and the trade deadline may prove too difficult without getting fair value in return due to his injury. These trades likely become ones the club looks at in the offseason, but a team may decide to get aggressive and make the Cardinals an offer before the deadline.
The Cardinals have clear needs when it comes to starting pitching, and sometimes you have to make difficult decisions to trade out of your strength to address a weakness. Whether it is before the trade deadline or after the 2023 season, the Cardinals should seriously consider trading Harrison Bader to one of these five teams.