We wish Sandy Alcantara was still on the Cardinals.
This one feels like a massive no brainer, doesn't it?
Alcantara, now 27, came up through the Cardinals system after signing with the organization as an international free agent in July of 2013. He, much like the aforementioned Luke Voit, quickly rose through the system thanks to a huge arm filled with ace-level potential.
Just a few years later at 21 years old, Alcantara broke into the big leagues as a middle reliever for the club. He made just eight appearances with a 4.32 ERA and four earned runs in 8.1 innings, but the talent was still obvious.
In one of the most painful moves in the franchise's history, the club traded Alcantara to the Miami Marlins (alongside Zac Gallen and two other players who have not amounted to anything in the majors) in exchange for controversial outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who has since moved onto the Atlanta Braves organization.
At the time, Ozuna was one of the key contributors in a Marlins outfield that at one time consisted of Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton as well. He did well in two years with the Cardinals, but the loss of Alcantara will hurt much more than Ozuna's production was worth on the team.
In 2019, Alcantara made his first All-Star Game and finished the season with a 3.88 ERA and 110 ERA+, making a full season of 32 starts and even throwing two complete game shutouts along the way.
He seemed to improve in each of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but he hit a whole new level this past season. Not only did he make his second All-Star Game appearance, but Alcantara absolutely dominated in every single way in 2022. He made 32 starts, went 14-9 with a sparkling 2.28 ERA and 178 ERA+, struck out 200 batters for the second consecutive season, and threw a jaw-dropping six complete games.
Alcantara easily won the NL Cy Young Award in 2022. His loss will continue to hurt more and more for the Cardinals as his development continues. He is still so young and there's a sense of last year being only the beginning of his utter dominance in The Show.