Cardinals receive: RHP Tyler Glasnow and $5 million
Rays receive: OF Dylan Carlson and OF Travis Honeyman
I'll be honest, the first two seem like much better fits for both sides compared to this deal, but I really do wonder whether or not the Rays would have a sneaky interest in Dylan Carlson.
Yes, Carlson has been disappointing ever since the 2022 trade deadline, but it's easy to forget how productive he was in 2021, and that he still has the potential to grow as a player in this league. With three years of team control remaining, the Rays get multiple seasons to try and help Carlson fulfill that potential, and if history tells us anything, it's that the Rays know how to unlock former Cardinal outfielders.
Carlson is a switch-hitter who is far superior in hitting from the right side of the plate. Maybe the Rays help him improve as a left-handed hitter or convince him to hit from the right side full-time. He's a former top-20 prospect in baseball and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2021, so the potential for growth is there. Carlson's defense is a major asset as well, as the Rays can play him at all three outfield positions confidently. Even if his struggles against right-handed pitching remain, they still have a great outfield defender who mashes left-handed pitching at a cost-controlled salary.
Carlson could very well become their second-best outfielder in 2024 and regain his path toward being one of the more valuable outfielders in the game. I doubt he's an All-Star in the coming years, but he could be one of those guys who's about as good as you can be without hitting that level. He has the potential to be that, and the Rays may not be able to pass on that.
I have them eating money again here, although I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't or if it was less than that $5 million number. For their troubles, I sent OF Travis Honeyman their way as well, providing the Rays with an intriguing outfielder for the future. I do not see the Rays getting a top prospect for Glasnow, but I'm sure they'd like to gain some prospect depth if the number one trade piece isn't as surefire as a Tommy Edman.
What's most important here for Cardinal fans is what this would mean for St. Louis. All of these deals have the potential to hurt St. Louis in the future, but it's a necessary risk when you consider the potential return here. People talk about the Rays fleecing teams in trades all the time, but this trade is much more like the Blake Snell deal than the Matthew Liberatore one.
When the Rays want to shed salary, it has less to do with their belief in a player and more to do with their ability to pay them long-term. Sure, the Rays are well aware of Glasnow's injury risk, but there is nothing to indicate that his talent is set to decline. Yes, the Rays maximize their guys, but Glasnow is just filthy, something that you can enhance but ultimately cannot teach. And the Cardinals should be improving their pitching tech anyway, so they have to continue to do so and bet on their staff to help Glasnow remain at the top of his game.
When you compare what it will take to get Glasnow in a trade to what it would take to get a Logan Gilbert or Dylan Cease, it's night and day. Both guys would require one of the Cardinals' best young bats with control, plus significant prospect capital. I'll pass on that at all costs unless it's a prospect-heavy package, but honestly, I think the Mariners and White Sox would want at least one of Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, or Lars Nootbaar.
I really hope the Cardinals pull off a deal for Glasnow this offseason, as he has the chance to transform their rotation at such a low cost to acquire.