Getting injured players back is like making a trade...sometimes

This baseball platitude is often met with scorn. What if it's true, to an extent?
Philadelphia Phillies v St. Louis Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies v St. Louis Cardinals / Jeff Le/GettyImages

The New York Yankees currently have 2 of the 3 best hitters in Juan Soto and Aaron Judge on their roster. They have one of the best rising young players in Anthony Volpe who happens to play a premium defensive position in shortstop and who bats leadoff. They possess one of the best young starting pitchers in Luis Gil. It's possible that Carlos Rodon is voted Most Improved Player at the end of the year.

What if I told you that the Yankees had the opportunity to trade for last year's American League Cy Young Award winner within the next few weeks? Your response would likely be that it's unfair. That's the case for the Yanks, as Gerrit Cole is scheduled to return to the major league roster within the next 10 days, depending on how his final rehab start goes. One of the best teams in baseball is about to have one of the best pitchers in baseball return to their lineup.

In some ways, having players return from the injured list in June or July is indeed the equivalent to making a big trade. This is especially true if the team was without this player for the entire season. He was never in their plans for the year, so the return of an injured player is a true addition that hadn't been felt before.

This is the case with the St. Louis Cardinals. Willson Contreras, Steven Matz, Lars Nootbaar, Tommy Edman, and Riley O'Brien are all on the injured list and working toward a return in the next 2 months. Each of these players was supposed to be a key part of the team this year. We as fans saw how Willson Contreras can positively impact the team in multiple arenas, and Lars Nootbaar has always shown promise so long as he can stay healthy.

Steven Matz has been up and down, primarily down, during his Cardinals tenure, but he could be a key 5th starter for the team as their search continues. He would also be valuable rotation depth should Oli Marmol and John Mozeliak choose to continue trotting out Andre Pallante as the last man.

The final players, Tommy Edman and Riley O'Brien, have yet to play this year on the team (O'Brien threw 1 inning at the beginning of the year, but that's virtually a nonfactor). Getting these players back will truly feel like additions that are brand new, and they couldn't come at more opportune times.

John Mozeliak has recently stated that he is in search of a 5th starter and a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play some center field. While O'Brien is a reliever, he provides much-needed depth to a bullpen that's been tasked with more work in the past few weeks. Tommy Edman is a bit split-prone, but he's done significantly better when batting right-handed for his career, especially in the power department.

Neither of these players' impacts have been felt by the team all year. Now, the Cardinals are receiving a starting center fielder who has been worth 7.8 fWAR the past two seasons and a reliever who has some serious stuff without having to give anything up.

The platitude of "getting an injured player back is like making a trade" largely isn't true. However, when applied to players who have been hurt all year, it can be valid. Tommy Edman and Riley O'Brien are two players who can make serious contributions to the team's playoff push; their returns will be welcome additions, possibly moreso than any trade could by July 31st.