4 players who are off the trade block since the Cardinals entered the playoff race

The St. Louis Cardinals have held a playoff spot for a few days now. There is more surety in their season. Some former trade candidates are no longer available.
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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RHP Andrew Kittredge

The Cardinals acquired right-handed pitcher Andrew Kittredge this past offseason in a trade that had Richie Palacios as the reciprocal piece going to the Tampa Bay Rays. Kittredge was acquired to pitch in high-leverage situations, and he's done just that this year.

My reasoning for keeping Andrew Kittredge is the same as it was for JoJo Romero. He's been an essential piece at the back end of the bullpen, and if John Mozeliak finds a good enough trade for Ryan Helsley, Kittredge will have to supplant the league's best closer. Kittredge would likely become the de facto closer, especially when a collection of right-handed batters are due up.

The last 10 days haven't been very kind to Kittredge, as he's given up 6 runs in 5 appearances, but he holds a 3.27 ERA in 33 innings on the year. His 1.121 WHIP is strong, and he's been able to strike out batters at a higher clip than he has in the past 2 years.

There are some concerns with Kittredge, specifically in his home run-to-fly ball ratio (17.2%); that's a high rate with a dangerous aspect of the game. Generating more groundballs would be beneficial to both himself and the team.

Kittredge is a free agent after this year, so there's a chance he's dealt. The return for the 34-year-old reliever who is on an expiring contract won't be much, but there is a chance the team capitalizes on whatever value he holds if they choose to keep Helsley. I don't see the Cardinals dealing Kittredge at the deadline since he's so important to their bullpen plan.