Does John Mozeliak have the right trade deadline targets for the Cardinals?

John Mozeliak has openly stated the team's needs, but are they the right needs?
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages

With the trade deadline about 6 weeks away, teams are starting to gear up and prepare for the summer trade frenzy. By July 31st, team leaders will have to determine their group's fate for the remainder of the season. That decision falls on John Mozeliak this year for the St. Louis Cardinals.

While usually cryptic and deceptive, Mozeliak has already begun telegraphing his goals for the trade deadline. When meeting with bloggers and podcasters, Mo opened up about his desires for this trade deadline.

"We are sort of in that shop mode on how we can look to get better, even if they're just small wins. I would define small wins as maybe trying to find someone who can give us innings in that 5th role. Is there some right-handed bat that could play center field from time to time? That would be helpful as well."

John Mozeliak

I already detailed 5 outfielders the team could target (add Tommy Pham to that list), and the amount of #5 starting pitchers who could become available will be vast. However, this begs a simple question: are these the actual needs of the team this year?

Before the season started, John Mozeliak signed 3 starting pitchers in Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, and Sonny Gray. Gray is a true top-of-the-rotation starting pitchers. The other two are more mid-rotation guys. Kyle Gibson has pitched admirably this year, and Lance Lynn has been serviceable, essentially a #5 starting pitcher.

Miles Mikolas has pitched better of late, but he likely should be a #4 starting pitcher in a playoff rotation. That leaves a spot at the top of the rotation that needs to be filled, not one at the bottom. Rather than trading for a #5 starting pitcher, someone to slot in near the top would be more beneficial for the staff.

Of the pitchers who are most likely pitchers to be traded this deadline, Jesus Luzardo, Erick Fedde, and Garrett Crochet are the biggest fish. Just below them are names like Jordan Montgomery, Tyler Anderson, and Jack Flaherty. While any of the first three would be game-changers, the second tier of pitchers would still bump down the bulk of the starters currently on the team's starting staff.

In addition to a 5th starter -- which is likely aiming too low -- John Mozeliak is targeting a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play center, but is this addition even necessary? When healthy, the Cardinals have too many outfielders. Alec Burleson is showing he must play every day. Tommy Edman is a supreme defensive center fielder with a .800 career OPS when batting right-handed. Lars Nootbaar has shown great potential. Brendan Donovan is a capable corner outfielder. Dylan Carlson has the pedigree to perform well. That's 5 guys. One might call that a logjam.

Introduce another outfielder and Oli Marmol will have a full-on mess he'll have to untangle. The return of players like Tommy Edman, Lars Nootbaar, and Willson Contreras could equate to making a trade, especially Edman since his services haven't been felt this year. Rather than acquiring another outfielder, perhaps Mozeliak could trade from the surplus to find a bullpen arm or add to a soft farm system.

John Mozeliak is entering this trade deadline with a 5th starter and a right-handed hitting outfielder on his wish list. However, a starter of that tier won't move the needle in the rotation, and another outfielder will clog up an already clustered situation. Instead, Mozeliak should work to add a high-end starter and use the team's surplus to beef up the bullpen and a fading farm system.