Cardinals receive: RHP Tyler Glasnow
Rays receive: OF/1B Alec Burleson and LHP Matthew Liberatore
Wouldn't this be ironic? The Rays traded away then-top prospect Matthew Liberatore to the Cardinals as the centerpiece of the Randy Arozarena deal, and would now bring him back into their fold to work with their elite pitching development team.
Liberatore isn't a flashy piece by any means, but left-handed starters with six years of service time are a valuable commodity in today's game, and he would just be the secondary piece in this deal. Liberatore showed at times this year, particularly in his 8-inning, shut-out performance against the Rays in Tampa, that there is still potential to be unlocked in him, and what better team to do so than Tampa?
Alec Burleson would be the headliner of this deal, a left-handed bat whose batted ball data shows a ton of room for growth. He was drafted back in 2020 and has already spent a full season at the big league level, and those within the Cardinals' organization love his swing. It's only a matter of time before he breaks out as a hitter, and Tampa could take advantage of that.
Part of the appeal here for Tampa is they basically take on just $1.5 million in salary here, get two players who could be contributors for them in 2024, and have both of them under club control for a very long time. While there may be "higher impact" guys in the more immediate term that they could target, they'd lose a lot of team control when targeting those names. The Rays are always looking for ways to maximize both the present and future of their club, so this one majors on the future and minors on the now in terms of value in return. But - it does free up close to $24 million in payroll, so they can add more talent that they otherwise would not have been able to.