5 dream trade targets for the St. Louis Cardinals

These players may not be the shiniest of trade candidates, but they would help the team make a playoff push in a tremendous way.
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Dream candidate #2: RHP Zach Eflin

When the Tampa Bay Rays signed right-handed pitcher Zach Eflin prior to the 2023 season, he immediately became the franchise's most expensive free agent. The 3-year, $40 million deal had him making $11 million in the first two seasons and $18 million in the final season which would be next year.

While most Cardinal fans see $18 million and think of Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright, Eflin's value far exceeds his dollar mark. The Tampa Bay Rays organization is known for trading players before they enter the final years of arbitration let alone free agents worth 8 figures.

Tim Kelly of Bleacher Report listed the Rays as probable sellers at the deadline recently; they sit just 4 games back of the Wild Card, but they are in 4th place in the American League East. This may be the year the Rays decide to trade off expiring contracts and expensive players to retool. With the bulk of their rotation on the injured list, a retool this year leading into 2025 with a restocked starting pitching staff may be their best bet.

Due to the impending return of key starters next year like Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, and Jeffrey Springs and Eflin's hefty salary in 2025, he could become expendable this year. The Cardinals should jump on that trade. $18 million is a sizeable chunk of change, but it would likely mean the Cardinals can stray away from using high prospects to lure Eflin away from the Rays.

Eflin, 30, has a 4.12 ERA, 3.78 FIP, and he's walked the fewest amount of batters this year in 74.1 innings. In fact, Eflin has only walked 5 batters this year out of the 310 that he's faced. He won't strike out the side often (6.9 K's per nine innings), but he won't get himself into trouble with free passes.

Zach Eflin would be a huge addition to the Cardinals' rotation for the remained of this season and next year. He would slot in nicely near Kyle Gibson and Miles Mikolas in the middle of the rotation, and he wouldn't cost much to acquire in a trade.