Richie Palacios (trade)
Before August of last season, Richie Palacios was a largely unknown entity. The Cardinals acquired the outfielder from the Cleveland Guardians only for cash last year, and he was able to post an .823 OPS in only thirty-two games. His 0.5 WAR total was impressive given his history and limited playing time last year.
Palacios was traded in early January to the Tampa Bay Rays for Andrew Kittredge, a former All-Star closer who had Tommy John Surgery and was sidelined for most of 2022 and 2023 as he recovered from his surgery.
It's possible this trade works out for both the Cardinals and the Rays; Tampa Bay needed some outfield depth, and the Cardinals needed a reliever, particularly one who can pitch in high-leverage situations. It's also possible that Richie Palacios becomes another "one who got away" from St. Louis.
The Cardinals will only have Kittredge on their roster (guaranteed) for this season. Palacios, meanwhile, still has all six years of control remaining on his contract. Therefore, he has plenty of time to help the Rays. Palacios doesn't have the minor league pedigree to make him a top prospect, and his brief stint in the majors prior to last year was unassuming (69 OPS+ in 123 plate appearances in 2022). He's almost twenty-seven, and he was going to be a depth piece for St. Louis these next few years.
However, Palacios was a high-energy guy who provided a spark to a team that was reeling from a lost season. He didn't strike out, he had strong plate discipline, and he was able to log twelve extra-base hits in limited time. I'm not saying Richie Palacios would have replaced any one of Tommy Edman, Jordan Walker, or Lars Nootbaar, but his profile as a role player in both the outfield and infield would have been reassuring for 2024 and beyond.