St. Louis Cardinals: Trade Deadline Should be a Future Lesson
The St. Louis Cardinals were finally active during this year’s trade deadline. But will they learn that offseason additions can help save prospects?
Adding Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton was a good – and necessary – move for the St. Louis Cardinals. It hurts to lose Harrison Bader but continuing to fortify the rotation by adding Jordan Montgomery was even better.
But man, I really hope this trade deadline serves as a lesson for the front office.
Now, that’s not to say I’m not happy with how the team’s moves turned out. The Cardinals needed to do something, anything, and it needed to be more than previous deadline moves for Juan Nicasio or Jon Lester (regardless of how well those moves turned out.)
But this trade deadline should remind the front office – as if it needs the reminder – that it’s easier to add in the offseason than waiting until the pressure cooker of a deadline deal. Instead of losing prospects and money, the offseason allows for impact upgrades at no cost to a burgeoning farm system.
I’m not the first one to beat this drum. Ben Frederickson of the Post-Dispatch has been saying the same for a few years now, and repeated the point in his most recent column analyzing the Cardinals’ moves at the deadline. But is the team listening?
The Cardinals can’t always have it both ways, complaining about the cost and length of contracts for free agents in the offseason while bemoaning the prospect ask for impact players at the deadline. And the team seems to have a pattern for making one great move but failing to follow-up with another impact play to fortify the team.
At the end of 2018, the Cardinals made an incredible offseason trade for Paul Goldschmidt. But with more offensive firepower needed, they opted not to bring on Bryce Harper, who reportedly had interest in joining the team. (And if it cost too much in prospects to get Soto, it’s worth remembering that Harper only required dollars.) In 2021, the team fleeced the Rockies for Nolan Arenado. But they failed to add to a rotation that clearly needed help.
And even this past offseason, how many fans were clamoring for the Cardinals to add pitching, even after the team signed Steven Matz? Max Scherzer was out there and supposedly wanted to come home. Instead, the Cardinals had to lose Johan Oviedo, Malcolm Nunez, and fan favorite Bader to pick up mid-rotation guys in Quintana (who was available as a free agent last offseason) and Montgomery, along with Stratton to help with the bullpen.
I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, here. I was happy with the Cardinals finally making a real move at the deadline. I let myself buy into the Juan Soto fervor but, in hindsight, there was no way the team was going to be able to outbid the Padres or the Dodgers.
Of course, it would have been nice to see the Cardinals explore other deals. How about Noah Syndergaard on an expiring contract? We already know Thor looks good in red and the headline prospect of that deal, Mickey Moniak, is a career .129 hitter. (That’s worse than Paul DeJong’s .136 average this year!) Or how about Pablo Lopez of the Marlins?
Regardless, it’s still hats off and kudos to the front office for adding Quintana, Stratton, and Montgomery. The three should fortify the rotation and the bullpen and cover desperately needed innings.
But these moves should do more than just that. They should be another sign in a growing pile of them that the Cardinals need to extend further in the offseason, when the only cost is dollars.