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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Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles are one of the best teams in baseball. Bolstered by an other-worldly offense, the Orioles are off to a 26-13 start to the season. They currently hold the top spot in the competitive American League East.

Baltimore's bullpen isn't the worst by most metrics; they rank 11th in K/9, 8th in BB/9, 8th in ERA, 9th in FIP, and 9th in fWAR. However, if they want to make a serious push in the playoffs, they'll need a shutdown reliever at the back of their bullpen. As a staff, they have only 13 saves, and Craig Kimbrel, one of their closers this year, has a 4.11 ERA, and it's going in the wrong direction recently. Over the last two weeks, Kimbrel has allowed 3 runs in 4 innings, and batters have a .768 OPS against him.

Yennier Cano, the Orioles' other "closer", was tabbed to be the setup man at the offset of the season, but his role has grown as Kimbrel's performance has weakened.

Bob Nightengale went as far as mentioning Helsley by name as a trade candidate for the Baltimore Orioles. Craig Kimbrel's struggles have escalated the Orioles' urgency in beefing up their relief corps this year. Helsley would slot in as their closer.

The Orioles' farm system is known for producing talented position players. Where they lack is the pitching department. A trade for Helsley this year will beef up their bullpen, but it will also give them an entire offseason to turn Helsley back into a starting pitcher should they choose to do so. The issue with trade value is that right now Helsley is just a closer with 1.5 years of team control left; he's not a starter with that control.

The Orioles' prospects in the top 100 are likely out of reach (Jackson Holliday #1, Samuel Basallo #14, Coby Mayo #21, and Heston Kjerstad #23) with Helsley by himself. However, the Cardinals could pry any one of them away with a huge trade. The Orioles could use another starting pitcher right now, especially one with consistency and a solid floor. Their center fielder, Cedric Mullins, is also struggling this year with a .192/.244/.367 slash line.

This deal all depends on what the Orioles want with Helsley. Do they improve their outfield or deepen their rotation?

Cardinals trade: RHP Ryan Helsley, RHP Kyle Gibson, $1.5 million (covers Gibson's buyout and his bonus if he pitches ore than 175 innings this year)
Orioles trade: Heston Kjerstad

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