The Cardinals could look to move a hitter or two for Major League ready pitching.
Using some of the Cardinals' better hitters as trade bait to see what contending teams could offer for them is something St. Louis might do. I do not mean Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, if the front office is focusing on the team outlook in 2024 then they would want their far and away two best players to be on that club. Looking at the position players, like Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, Tommy Edman, and others could be traded whether it's for a change of scenery or to clear room for an uprising prospect.
In the Cardinals' case, it could be shortstop Masyn Winn. who is tearing it up in Triple-A. And the Cardinals could move minor league prospects that may not have a route to the big leagues in St. Louis where they can get consistent playing time. Will sluggers Luken Baker and Moises Gomez get at-bats in the big leagues? And if Willson Contreras is under contract until 2027, what do you do with Ivan Herrera? Or with other minor league catchers like Leonardo Bernal or Jimmy Crooks? Those are some guys you could see on the move to help improve the pitching staff right now.
There are contending teams that could be looking for a bat at the trade deadline. Teams like the Guardians, Marlins, Twins, and Brewers are all in a playoff spot or just outside looking in, and they are all in the bottom 3rd of the league in runs per game this season. Would any of those teams be willing to trade away one of their starters to try and add some thump to their lineup down the stretch?
We saw a trade last season among two buyers when the Cardinals traded Harrison Bader to the Yankees for Jordan Montgomery, two teams filling a need for the stretch run to the postseason. You could definitely see these contending teams reaching out to the Cardinals to try and improve their offense, and it could make a good trade partner for the Cards as both teams would be looking to add something they desperately need.
So could we see the Cardinals trade off pending free agents and acquire starting pitching to help the team win now and in the future for prospects on the same deadline? Absolutely. But will we? I have my doubts. A lot of things would have to go right to make that happen. But at the end of the day, the Front Office will have to ask themselves if it's worth it to hang on to players who will hit free agency after the season and take the risk of losing them for nothing in what is a lost season. And they have to realize that three of your starting pitchers could be gone next season, some arms will need to come in and replace those guys. You'd hate to waste an opportunity to acquire someone that can bolster your rotation right now and for years to come.
This Trade Deadline for the Cardinals will be one of the most important deadlines they've ever had. The 2023 season has been an extremely disappointing year, but they still have a chance to salvage something out of it.