The St. Louis Cardinals have created the early MLB off-season noise by signing multiple pitchers, including three-time All-Star and 2023 AL Cy-Young runner-up Sonny Gray. Like most Cardinals transactions, the front office has done extensive research to truly find what players they want. For Gray, this groundwork was laid seven seasons ago.
As reminded by President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak at the most recent press conference, the Cardinals tried to draft Gray in the 2011 draft but lost their chance when the Oakland Athletics took him with the 18th overall pick. The Cardinals instead drafted a promising second baseman who quickly rose through the minor leagues and was a staple for most of the 2010s. His name was Kolten Wong.
The Oakland Athletics approached the 2017 trade deadline looking to do what they always do: trade-off valuable players before they have to extend them. Sonny Gray was one of the top available arms at the trade deadline that year and the New York Yankees were looking to solidify the starting rotation to set themselves up for a deep October run. Both teams beat the 4 P.M ET deadline and got the trade done. Oakland received top Yankee prospects Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, and James Kaprielian. So how is this relevant to the Cardinals?
John Mozeliak also was involved in these sweepstakes as he was trying to steal Sonny Gray away from any interested teams. The Cardinals entered the discussions late and offered a quick package of Stephen Piscotty (who was later traded to the team) and a mix of either Luke Weaver or Jack Flaherty. The A’s chose the more lucrative package from the Yankees and the rest is history.
Now that we have Sonny Gray, the Cardinals will continue to build towards the 2024 season. With his contract being backloaded significantly, are there more major moves in the making? Stay tuned to Redbird Rants for further updates!