7 trade partners that make way too much sense for the Cardinals at the trade deadline

Luckily for the Cardinals, there are plenty of suitors that would make a ton of sense for them to make a trade with.
May 4, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  Chicago White Sox right fielder Tommy Pham (28) celebrates with shortstop Paul DeJong (29) after the White Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in ten innings at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Tommy Pham (28) celebrates with shortstop Paul DeJong (29) after the White Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in ten innings at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
3 of 7
Next

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are one of a few different teams on this list that none of us really expected to be sellers before the season began.

Toronto has severely underperformed this year as a whole though and currently sits 14.5 games back of the American League East-leading Orioles and Yankees as well as 7.5 games back of the third Wild Card spot. Like the White Sox, most of the attention this summer is going to be on their two stars - Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette - the Cardinals will not be involved in either of those markets.

Here is where things do get interesting for St. Louis though. If the Blue Jays sell off one or both of those stars who are set to be free agents after the 2025 season, then I would imagine they'll be open to moving on from a few other veterans on their roster as well in order to begin a retool or rebuild. As much as Toronto would like to believe they are contenders, they may have the bleakest future in the American League East, let alone other teams in the American League that they cannot compete with.

So while the Cardinals won't be calling on Bichette or Guerrero, what is stopping them from having interest in starting pitchers like Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, or Chris Bassitt? Even if the Blue Jays don't want to go into a full-scale rebuild, it would make sense to capitalize on the value of starting pitchers in their mid-30s if their return to contention won't be a quick one.

Each of those starters would present unique opportunities for the Cardinals to upgrade their rotation. Bassitt is in his age 35 season and has one more year left on his contract at $22 million for 2025. He has been very effective for Toronto so far in 2024, posting a 3.45 ERA in 91.1 innings of work, and would certainly qualify as a good number three starter for the Cardinals if they were to acquire him, and I imagine that Toronto would either pay down his salary or get little in return for him.

Kikuchi has not been as effective as Bassitt this year but is in a contract year, making him a fairly attractive target for St. Louis rather than also committing $20 million or more to a starter next year (unless again that contract is paid down). Kikuchi has more swing-and-miss in his game than Bassitt but has done so to the tune of a 4.18 ERA in his 88.1 innings this year. He is a lefty as well which might be interesting to target with the success southpaws seem to have in Busch Stadium.

My favorite target of the bunch though and one I think the Cardinals should be all over this year is Kevin Gausman. Gausman was a Cy Young candidate each of the past three seasons, being among the league leaders in strikeouts and pitching like a true ace. The big concern is that his strikeout stuff has fallen off this year, and this has led to him posting a 4.26 ERA in this process. Gausman's 3.89 FIP indicates some positive regression could be coming, but the fact is he needs to regain his swing-and-miss stuff in order to be the kind of dominant starter we saw him become since 2021.

Gausman makes $22 million this year and then $23 million each of the next two seasons. If Toronto is willing to pay that contract down a bit, Gausman could be the perfect upside play for the Cardinals to pursue. For context, Miles Mikolas makes $18 million right now, and while that was not a good contract for the Cardinals to hand out, it shows what the cost of pitching becomes when it hits the open market. Buying low on a guy with the kind of stuff Gausman has, not giving up significant prospects to acquire him, and paying less than market value on his contract is the exact kind of move the Cardinals have found success with in past years.

One other piece to note - the Cardinals and Blue Jays made three different trades with each other last season (Paul DeJong, Genesis Cabrera, and Jordan Hicks) and have discussed deals in the past for the Blue Jays catchers. This may open the door to quicker conversations as well.