Could the Cardinals sell and still snatch the final Wild Card spot?

The Cardinals seem intent on buying at the deadline, but with as bad as the Wild Card race is, could they sell and still make it to the postseason?
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Cardinals seem intent on being buyers at the trade deadline, as John Mozeliak alluded to in his annual conversation with Cardinals bloggers. Mozeliak said he would define a fifth starter to eat innings and a right-handed bat who could play center field as "small wins."

But there has been plenty of speculation about Ryan Helsley being traded if the Cardinals sell. The popular consensus is that this is what the Cardinals will do when the deadline comes around.

Though the Cardinals are two games below the .500 mark and in fourth place in the NL Central, they are still very much alive in the Wild Card race, sitting just a game back of the final spot. This begs the question of whether or not the Cardinals could sell and somehow still make the postseason.

Could the Cardinals sell and still grab a Wild Card?

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Teams that sell at the deadline never make it to the postseason. Selling always indicates that they're throwing in the towel on the season. But the Cardinals really are in a unique spot, and this is more of a hypothetical scenario.

They're under .500 and look like a team better positioned to sell than to buy, but they're right in the thick of the race. Jeff Jones even thought it was possible during an appearance on the Dealin' the Cards podcast that selling to a degree could be in play, similar to what the Diamondbacks did last year with Paul Sewald. However, more moves to actually improve the club could come.

Jones noted that the Cardinals could be blown away by an offer for Helsley but also add some pieces. In that case, they could sell and still potentially make the playoffs.

But could they do a full sell and still pull it off?

Not likely, it would seem. As Jones noted, it's not clear which direction they'll be headed in. Despite the possibility, buying and selling simultaneously is unlikely, so the Cardinals will likely commit to one or the other.

But looking at the Wild Card race, they still have a shot. At the same time, there are so many holes in the roster that maybe buying doesn't make the most sense.

I've been beating the drum on selling because I don't think this is the year and that they're in a better position to do that than to buy. But the way the Wild Card race is looking would suggest that there's still a chance, even if they sell.

The Giants currently occupy the third and final Wild Card spot, and they're a game under .500. We don't know what they'll do. They could go in either direction, similarly to the Cardinals. But the fact is that the Wild Card race is full of sub-par teams right now.

The Cardinals, even in their state, could find a way to outplay some of these teams and stay in the mix. It's clear that this isn't a World Series contender, but the Wild Card race is so weak that anything is possible.

We'll see how the rest of the season goes. It does depend on what other middling teams decide to do. But if they choose to sell, the Cardinals could very well do the same but also somehow remain in the mix. I would think it's unlikely, but when was the last time that almost the entire National League was mediocre at best? You could make the case that it's more incentive to buy, and it could be. But so much is up in the air right now.