Cardinals insider suggests their star closer could be available at the trade deadline

St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game One
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game One / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

The Cardinals are off to yet another rocky start. Heading into Wednesday's series finale against the Mets, they were 15-21 and in last place in the NL Central, 6.5 games back of first.

If their rocky start continues, it's very likely that the Cardinals could end up being sellers at the trade deadline again. They sold off pieces such as Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, Paul DeJong, Chris Stratton, and Jordan Hicks at last year's deadline.

In Monday's Cardinals chat, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (subscription required) floated around the possibility of the Cardinals being deadline sellers and using Ryan Helsley as a potential trade piece.)

Goold noted that it would be somewhat similar to what the Yankees did in 2016 with pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller as a way to speed up the rebuilding process.

Cardinals could trade Helsley if they sell again

Goold noted that the Cardinals' current roster is essentially built to be a seller if that is the route they end up taking this year and that "dramatic changes" would be possible.

Given Helsley's performance early on this season, he would likely net the Cardinals a very hefty return on top prospects, and even some Major League-ready pieces if they want to initiate a quick rebuild.

The Yankees obviously did this back in 2016 and got some solid pieces in return for both Miller and Chapman. Former Yankee Adam Warren went back to New York in the Chapman deal and proved to be a key bullpen piece for them the following year, so it's very possible that the Cardinals could get something similar for Helsley.

Without Helsley, the Cardinals would likely pivot to either JoJo Romero or Andrew Kittredge for the closer's role or potentially even give somebody like Keynan Middleton a chance, though any of those pieces could be part of a potential fire sale as well.

Another player that could potentially be on the move is Nolan Arenado, if what Goold said about "dramatic changes" is true. The Cardinals could get some big pieces for him that could help them in 2025 and beyond if they end up selling at the deadline, pieces that could speed up the rebuilding process.

The Cardinals could potentially take a page out of the Red Sox book and choose to buy and sell, similar to what Boston did in 2022. They sold off certain pieces but also added so as not to completely throw in the towel on the season.

Even if the Cardinals do trade Helsley and possibly Arenado, they could do some buying as well and position themselves for success this year and in the future.

But they might be in a better position to sell this year than they were last year and get some better pieces in return. It is still early in the season, so it's not time to throw in the towel just yet. But if they're out of contention again, it's obvious that they will need to consider starting a rebuild of sorts, though it can be more similar to what the Yankees did back in 2016 than a total and complete teardown.

It could also allow them to contend again by 2025 or 2026. The last thing fans want is a total rebuild, as everybody has grown accustomed to winning and competing every single year. But with the proper moves, they could speed up the process of rebuilding and set themselves up for contention in the near future.

Helsley may be the best guy to trade in order to initiate the rebuild, as he could get the Cardinals some very big pieces in return.