Bader trade connected to other moves by the St. Louis Cardinals

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Jordan Walker #22 of the National League at bat during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Jordan Walker #22 of the National League at bat during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals just traded their starting center fielder. On the same day, their top prospect started his first game in left field.

John Mozeliak and the St. Louis Cardinals did exactly what he said he would do at the trade deadline: trade for starting pitching. With minutes to go before trading season expired, the Cardinals traded Harrison Bader to the New York Yankees, in exchange for starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery.

My initial reaction was a little stunned. Harrison Bader is a fan-favorite. He plays with energy and hustle, and was the centerpiece of the great St. Louis outfield defense.

However, Bader has struggled with injury problems and staying consistent at the plate. With the extraordinary outfield depth in the Cardinals organization, I understand why he was the one to go. This is exactly the kind of move I forecasted last week:

"Even with the DH, you can probably only roster five outfielders. There’s only one solution: consolidate the talent in a trade.Right now, the St. Louis Cardinals need starting pitching. Next year, they’ll probably need something else. But barring catastrophic injuries, they will never need ten outfielders."

While the Montgomery trade was made to help this year’s ball club, it’s no coincidence that on the same day Bader was traded, the Cardinals made a notable move with top prospect Jordan Walker.

That’s right. For the first time in his professional career, Jordan Walker will be playing the outfield. And there’s a very important reason(s) for this move.

Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have the corners locked down. Plus second base is spoken for, as the Cardinals have already moved rookie Nolan Gorman to the middle infield.

Jordan Walker is destroying the baseball, and at this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him debut in St. Louis next season. However, the only spot for him besides DH would be left or right field. Dylan Carlson and (despite his injury issues) Tyler O’Neill have earned starting spots. So you see the problem. It’s a good problem to have too many good players, but a problem nonetheless.

Now that Bader is gone and Dylan Carlson has been  anointed centerfielder of the future (rightfully, in my opinion), the Cardinals have a path for Walker. We’ve spoken on the new pressure facing Carlson. Well, the Cardinals are placing a big bet on the 20 year-old Walker’s potential, too.

This is the exciting part of building a team, and I see no reason to doubt Walker’s ability. In the meantime, Corey Dickerson, Brendan Donovan, Juan Yepez, and Lars Nootbaar will step up and fill the outfield void– just as they have been doing all season. Maybe Alec Burleson gets a shot now, too.

The point is, no decision is ever made in a vacuum. Harrison Bader is a talented baseball player that will help his hometown Yankees tremendously. However, the Cardinals made a smart decision to trade from depth.

As the Cardinals and their new and improved pitching staff chase down the Brewers this summer, keep an eye on Jordan Walker and how he adapts to the outfield. The old guard might be on their final run at Busch, but an exciting young core is forming to take their place.

Next. Cardinals Miss Out on Juan Soto After Choosing Not To Trade Dylan Carlson. dark