4 trade locations and returns for Cardinals' All-Star closer Ryan Helsley

Ryan Helsley will draw plenty of interest at this year's trade deadline if the Cardinals choose to sell. These teams are good fits for the righty.
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game One
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game One / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals may have the best reliever on the market this summer. Closer Ryan Helsley has been electric this season. He is one part of the team's three-headed monster in the back of the bullpen with JoJo Romero and Andrew Kittredge.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today, John Denton of MLB.com, and Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch have all listed Helsley as a possible trade candidate within the last week. Denton mentioned the Cardinals' concern over Helsley's history of arm injuries and lingering unhappiness surrounding his arbitration hearing last offseason.

Helsley has a 1.42 ERA, 1.93 FIP, 0.84 WHIP, and he has struck out 29.2% of batters he's faced while walking just 2.8% of them. Those numbers are some of the best among all relievers, and since Helsley moved solely to a reliever role, he's been able to thrive.

This has created a double-edged sword for the Cardinals. Helsley isn't a free agent until after the 2025 season, and it's possible he's even moved back to being a starting pitcher next year after seeing Jordan Hicks's success in that transition this year with the San Francisco Giants. That is a lot of value in a player who is still arbitration-eligible.

Whether Helsley guts it out as a closer for the next year and a half or he moves back to the rotation, he will still experience success and help the team tremendously.

Conversely, that means that Helsley has a ton of value, especially for teams looking for bullpen help in the playoffs. Similar to last year, the Cardinals could enter a retool by moving some relievers. Via trades of Jordan Hicks, Genesis Cabrera, and Chris Stratton, John Mozeliak was able to beef up a prospect group in desperate need of players; the same can be accomplished this year.

Every team needs pitching come playoff time; it's an essential ingredient in shortening high-leverage games. Helsley's experience and prowess late in games will be tantalizing to several contending teams. Due to his accomplishments in high-leverage situations, his remaining team control, his price, and his potential to return to the rotation next year, the Cardinals could ask for quite a bit in exchange.

Paul Sewald is probably the best comp for a Ryan Helsley trade. Last year, the Seattle Mariners traded their closer to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sewald had a similar career to Helsley up to that point in his career, though he was significantly older (33 years old). Helsley comes with a higher ceiling than Sewald, though his injury concern is greater.

The Mariners received Josh Rojas, a utility infielder with a below-average bat, Dominic Canzone, an undersized outfielder with a bit of pop who was ranked as the team's 22nd-best prospect last year, and Ryan Bliss, a former second-round pick who hit well in AA last year.

Here are 4 teams that would be good trade partners for closer Ryan Helsley and possible returns.