Cardinals: 4 things to keep an eye on as the club preps for the trade deadline

As the month of July gets underway, there are 4 things that fans should be paying close attention to as the Cardinals prepare for an active trade deadline.
New York Yankees v St. Louis Cardinals - Game One
New York Yankees v St. Louis Cardinals - Game One / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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2. The value of their impending free agents

Have you watched Jordan Montgomery and Jordan Hicks lately? Both are pitching like guys who could not only be difference makers for contenders down the stretch but also legitimately influence the pennate race depending on where they go. Translation: the market for them will be hot, and the Cardinals can take major advantage of that.

Over his last 7 starts, Montgomery is 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. We've seen Montgomery go toe to toe with Gerrit Cole and Framber Valdez in his last two starts, outdueling both like it was a critical playoff matchup. Every contender needs starting pitching help, and Montgomery is going to be one of the most valuable names available.

Hicks has been equally as good as Montgomery at the end of games for St. Louis, posting a 1.17 ERA and 5 saves over his last 7 games. His last 15 appearances have been stellar as well, sporting a 2.30 ERA with 22 SO in 15.2 innings of work. Again, teams are going to be calling the Cardinals frequently to get that kind of talent at the back end of their bullpen.

Even Jack Flaherty may end up holding some sneaky value at this deadline. The teams that miss out on the Jordan Montgomerys and other top options will look at Flaherty as a high-upside play. On his good days, he's really good, as he showed on Saturday against the Yankees. He gave up 0 runs over 6 innings of work, and outside of his last two starts where he blew up, he's been very good as of late for the Cardinals. In six starts between May 9th and June 7th, Flaherty gave up 3 runs or less every start.

The Cardinals have to capitalize on the value of their impending free agents with eyes on 2024. They'd love to grab some controllable big-league talent, but even prospect-rich packages would go a long way for St. Louis. If they want to truly retool this club between now and next Spring Training, they are going to need to stockpile assets so that they can be both creative and aggressive in the trade market. This brings me to my next point...