The 2023 season has been a colossal letdown for Cardinal fans. Sure, every season there are good teams and bad teams, but fans generally know whether they are watching a last-place team in April. Most Cardinals fans had no idea just how terribly the 2023 season would unfold. Both fans and executives expected a strong 2023 season from the Cardinals. Unfortunately, the team never truly came together, and they now find themselves near the cellar of the National League.
If there is a silver lining to be found in this nightmare season, it is the unusually strong market. Only several teams feel they are truly out of it at this point. Of those, most lack the valuable pieces contenders are actively seeking. The Cardinals find themselves in this sweet spot: a clear seller with valuable, controllable talent. It's considered a given that the Cardinals will deal their talent on expiring deals. However, whether they'll dip into the aforementioned pool of controllable position players is up in the air.
Dipping into this pool is something the Cardinals should absolutely do. They have one of the deepest groups of position players in all of baseball. It is precisely this depth that allows the Cardinals to explore a trade of a valuable, controllable young outfielder.
Enter Dylan Carlson. Carlson, a former top prospect, has shown flashes of brilliance at the big league level, including a strong rookie season. It remains possible that he realizes his immense potential and breaks out. The makings of this breakout are present. Though it's sometimes difficult to tell, Carlson is hitting the ball harder than ever in 2023. He's also lifting it more often. His walk rate of 10.2% also represents a career-high. Though his power can go missing for extended stretches, he is still just 24 years old.
Carlson's talent remains tantalizing, but he has yet to put it all together for the Cardinals. A change of scenery could bring the best out of Carlson while also freeing him from the reserve role he has occupied throughout much of 2023.
Why the Yankees would make a good trade partner for the Cardinals
The Yankees have been frequently linked to the Cardinals over the past several weeks. This is because the Yankees can fill the Cardinals' most glaring holes. According to MLB Pipeline, 19 of New York's top 30 prospects are pitchers. At least nine of these pitchers project to reach the big leagues at some point in 2024. The Yankees cannot possibly find homes for all of these young arms.
Meanwhile, their offense is terrible. Without Judge, the Yankees have one of baseball's least potent offenses. Their lineup is filled with former stars like Josh Donaldson and DJ Lemahieu. Internal options, such as Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, have largely disappointed thus far. Perhaps there's something left in the tanks of their veterans and perhaps their youngsters will enjoy breakouts shortly, but the Yankees should not count on such events. With an important stretch run coming up, they need to acquire reinforcements.
Carlson fills an obvious hole in the Yankees' outfield. With Judge still out, the Yankees desperately need to bolster both their outfield and their offense. Carlson can do both at an affordable rate. After this season, Carlson will still have three full years of team control. Even if the Yankees eventually decide to move Carlson into a reserve role, he has been incredible against lefties throughout his career. His strong defense and platoon numbers will give him value even in a lesser role.