Alec Burleson's emergence lessens the blow of this historically bad Cardinals' trade

The presence of Alec Burleson is a result of a really bad decision by the front office years prior.
Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals
Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

Let's be honest, we all know all of the bad deals that the St. Louis Cardinals have made over the years. The Randy Arozaerna trade, cutting ties with Adolis Garcia, dealing away Lane Thomas, and unfortunately, a number of additional mistakes. But no mistake has been harped on more than their decision to trade Zac Gallen and Sandy Alcantara for outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

Alcantara went on to win a Cy Young Award while Gallen has been in the running for the award on a number of occasions. While giving away a future Cy Young award winner and another one of the best starters in baseball is going to be bad regardless of how your team plays, the fact the Cardinals starting pitching has been a mess since then tells you everything you need to know about this deal.

Ozuna was not bad in St. Louis, but he certainly did not live up to the expectations the Cardinals had for him, and to make matters even worse, Ozuna has been one of the best hitters in baseball since leaving the Cardinals after the 2019 season.

With all of that being said, I'm here to tell you that there is someone who is lessening the blow of that horrific trade, and his name is Alec Burleson.

The Cardinals ended up with Alec Burleson because of the awful Marcell Ozuna trade

Unless Burleson goes on to be a multi-time All-Star and one of the best hitters in baseball, it's unlikely he'll truly flip the script on this infamous trade, but I don't think many Cardinals fans realize that the club was able to draft Burleson because of that deal.

Following the 2019 season, Ozuna left the Cardinals in free agency to sign with the Atlanta Braves. The Cardinals received the 70th pick in the 2020 MLB Draft draft as compensation for losing Ozuna in free agency and used that pick to select Burleson out of East Carolina University.

Funny how things seem to work out that way.

No, I'm not going to try and defend the Ozuna trade. Frankly, the Cardinals got desperate and made a really bad move. Hindsight is 20/20 so many of us did not anticipate the trade going as south as it did, but the front office has to wear that one. But hey, it's pretty nice to have Burleson in this club now.

Burleson was a top 100 prospect in baseball before making his MLB debut at the end of the 2022 season. He tore up Minor League Baseball with his bat, and after an underwhelming rookie season in 2023, Burleson has been one of the Cardinals' best hitters this year with a 123 OPS+ and is a borderline All-Star in the National League. With Paul Goldschmidt set to hit free agency following this season, there is a good chance that Burleson is the Cardinals' first baseman of the future.

It's not quite the same thing, but that infamous Liberatore trade also landed the Cardinals Tink Hence in that same draft. Hence was drafted with the 63rd pick in the 2020 draft, which the Cardinals received in the Liberatore trade after they swapped the 38th overall pick for it. The Cardinals technically get credit here for that too. Overall, the Cardinals' 2020 draft class has given them Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, Burleson, Hence, and an intriguing prospect in Ian Bedell.

So the next time you lament the Ozuna trade, try and remember that Burleson is in St. Louis because of it. That won't fix the frustration, but hey, it's a pretty significant silver lining.