How this trade could make sense for the St Louis Cardinals
As we've covered, the Cardinals aren't good this year. They need to add multiple starting pitchers to their rotation to compete in 2024. Goldschmidt turns 36 years old in a couple of weeks. And Arenado has seen his defense slip such that this almost certainly will be the first season in his 11-year career in which he doesn't win a Gold Glove.
This team has holes, lots of them. It also has enough depth at a few positions to make the moves to patch those holes. And moving Arenado in exchange for multiple players to fill positions of need is not an entirely implausible path.
The specifics in Castillo's article include adding a starting pitcher - Jack Flaherty orJordan Montgomery - to the deal in order to improve the return package. The players coming back would be lead by young starting pitching, with Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone, Ryan Pepiot, and Emmet Sheehan specifically mentioned, though Michael Grove certainly should be another consideration.
Castillo also suggests one or both of Max Muncy and Chris Taylor could be included, which would only make sense if taking on their salaries improved the prospect package. Muncy is the more reasonable of the two since he's only signed through this season, though he has a $10M option for next year. As an all-or-nothing thumper who hits homers, walks a lot, and strikes out a ton, he has value, but probably isn't a great fit for the Cardinals. Taylor is a worse hitter and a more versatile defender, but he's owed $30 through 2025, so his appeal is rapidly approaching zero.
If the Cardinals could get Miller and another young hurler, and bring Muncy along to finish the season as a pinch hitter and backup, there are some other benefits to this move. Rookie "outfielder" Jordan Walker could return to his natural position of third base, getting him off the grass where he has the grace of a newborn giraffe. Outfield responsibilities could be returned to Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, and Lars Nootbaar in some configuration.
St. Louis also would have Arenado's salary (and Adam Wainwright's) to use elsewhere, such as on a free agent starting pitcher or two. A colleague suggested Aaron Nola and Julio Urias, which might be too rich for Bill DeWitt's blue blood but is within the realm of possibility.
Make your young stud hitter more comfortable and more valuable at the same time. Sign a top-of-rotation starter, maybe even two. Bring in young starters for the back of the rotation who advance to roles of greater responsibility when the contracts of Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz end in a couple of seasons. Settle your outfield for next year. There are a lot of potential benefits to this plan.
It's a big if, and the type of bold move that hasn't worked out well for Mozeliak, but if things broke the right way, the Cardinals actually could come out ahead by trading away one of their two best players. Maybe it's not the craziest idea after all.