Derrick Goold in a recent column has discussed four potential trade suitors for the Cardinals. He believes with such a position player shortage in the FA market, the Cardinals can capitalize on trading their depth to get more cost-controlled starters who bring less risk than the long-term contracts in FA. The obvious fits are the Yankees and the Mariners since they were linked during the trade deadline discussions. But one suitor brings lots of curiosity and could be a perfect trade scenario that is worth discussing. That would be the Blue Jays trading Alek Manoah for Dylan Carlson.
If the Cardinals make any depth trades for pitching, the first two players gone will be Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson. The issue is that both players are being sold at a time when their values have been diminished. O’Neill is at an all-time low and might not bring much back in a trade, so the idea of him staying put is not far-fetched. Carlson is still very young and cost-controlled. He has not reached the potential he was hyped up to be, but he is still a switch-hitting outfielder who plays a great center field. If another team can figure out how to get him to hit right-handed pitching, they will have a solid player.
The Cardinals are in dire need of pitchers to lead the rotation. MIkolas is reliable but as a backend starter. Matz needs to stay healthy so he can be an option going forward. With three vacancies in the rotation, MO needs to focus on getting impactful starters that can win the team a 3 game series on a continuous basis. Alek Manoah might not seem like this kind of option given his horrid 2023 season that led to him getting dropped to instructional league.
But Manoah already has established a strong track record at the major league level and has shown ace-level performance. He placed 8th in ROY voting in 2021 where he went 9-2, 3.22 ERA, 111.2 IP, 3.80 FIP, 1.048 WHIP, 10.2 SO/9, and 3.2 BB/9. He followed up his rookie season with the best season of his short career so far by going 16-7, 2.24 ERA, 196.2 IP, 3.35 FIP, 0.992 WHIP, 8.2 SO/9, and 2.3 BB/9. He started for the AL in the All-Star Game and placed third in the AL Cy Young voting. Manoah has star potential and has already displayed it very early in his career. Given he will only be 26 going into the 2024 season, a lot is still left in the tank.
If the Cardinals get cold feet in the FA market and are not aggressive in fixing their glaring issues with pitching, they will pivot quickly to trade negotiations. MO and company tend to be better on this front and should continue to pursue trading their position player depth to improve their weak areas. Manoah can be a gamble worth taking and if it pays off, the Cardinals have a young ace they can rely on for years to come. The Cardinals do not like taking high-risk chances, but they have no other choice this off-season. They set themselves up for this problem, now they have to fix their problem.
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