8 players the Cardinals need to consider trading if their season is over

The St. Louis Cardinals may be heading toward selling again at this year's trade deadline. If that's the case, these 8 players could be made available.
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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Sonny Gray

We've got two names left on my list, and Sonny Gray is one that I think we need to keep our eye on if things go south for St. Louis. There are multiple reasons they should trade him if they go into a retool, but there are also multiple reasons they should keep him either way.

Let's start with the arguments to keep Gray around in St. Louis. First, he wanted to be in St. Louis. It's close to his home in Nashville, and it allows him and his family to be close to where they want to be. While fans' minds often go to being on a winning team no matter what, family and location matter to players too, and it was part of the draw for Gray to St. Louis.

Second, if the Cardinals want to try and win again in the near future, it's hard to argue against the idea of Gray being a part of that rotation. Gray has been everything you could possibly want in an ace so far this season and is coming off a second-place finish in the American League Cy Young Award voting, and that's the kind of guy you want in your rotation if you want to win.

Third, Gray is the exact kind of veteran you want pouring into your young arms who are coming up over the next two years. While veterans like Lynn, Gibson, Miles Mikolas, and Steven Matz can speak into a young pitcher's life and career, Gray has the exact personality of a guy who can shepherd a young staff, much like Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright did before him. It's also a major advantage for that staff mentor to also be one of the best pitchers in baseball.

So far all of those reasons, I can see why the Cardinals would want to hold onto Gray, but there are also many reasons why they could trade him instead.

First, Gray is 34 this season and has posted a 0.89 ERA in his five starts thus far. He's been incredible, but it's easy to imagine him regressing over the next few seasons. That doesn't mean he'll become a bad pitcher, but his value is the highest it will ever be right now.

Second, speaking of his value, I would have a hard time believing there would be a single starting pitcher better than Gray on the trade market come July. In fact, Gray would likely be the most valuable piece available at the deadline, and paired with a Helsley trade, could bring the Cardinals back a haul of prospects and young talent. If their eyes are on the future, that's hard to pass up.

Third, Gray's contract is backloaded, meaning his salary jumps up significantly over the next two seasons. He's owed $25 million in 2025 and $35 million in 2026. While the Cardinals don't have to move off that money, it may be wise to do so with an aging pitcher when your club is going to be taking a step back, even if it's just for a year or two.

Again, every contender is going to be interested in Gray, and the Cardinals would likely get the greatest package of talent in return of any team selling players at the deadline.

Trade fits: Braves, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Padres, Astros, Orioles, and Dodgers