How will the Cardinals upgrade their roster at the trade deadline?

The Cardinals have played themselves into a position to be buyers at the deadline, but what will this year's deadline look like for a team that bounced back from another dreadful start?
St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

A few articles came out today in The Athletic that gave us a better idea of what the Cardinals might do at the trade deadline. Obviously, they've gone from being true sellers to buyers at this year's deadline, and they'll likely be adding rather than subtracting. The only way they'll sell is if things go south again. There were a couple of things that stood out to me.

Today, Katie Woo made an interesting note, that Jordan Walker and Victor Scott II's roles on the roster are less clear. With players like Michael Siani playing well, the logjam in the Cardinals outfield has returned. She did mention that top prospects are not likely to be traded.

In another article, Woo mentioned how the Cardinals need pitching depth at both the Major League and minor league levels, and that this is something they hope to address at the deadline.

But how will they go about this, and what do the murky futures of Walker and Scott mean for the organization?

How will the Cardinals improve their roster at the deadline?

We'll start by talking about the unclear roles for Walker and Scott. We must remember that the Cardinals are highly unlikely to trade top prospects, so in Scott's case, there will be no trade. But the mention of Walker got me thinking about something interesting.

Walker no longer qualifies as a prospect, having spent almost a full season in the Majors. With the emergence of Siani as a top defender and Tommy Edman and Lars Nootbaar coming back, he becomes blocked. So, what would the Cardinals do with him then?

It made me wonder if the Cardinals might actually trade Walker. They want a starting pitcher, but they need to stop trying for back-end guys because that's not what helps you win in the postseason. At worst, they need a middle-of-the-rotation arm, which likely wouldn't cost too much. I'd be interested in guys like Zach Eflin or even Jack Flaherty. Preferably though, they would target a No. 2 starter.

With the Rangers out of contention, part of me wonders if there's a way the Cardinals can make a run at Nathan Eovaldi. Certainly, the Rangers would be interested then. It would hurt to trade Walker, and you would run the risk of another Randy Arozarena or Adolis Garcia situation. But since Walker isn't a top prospect, this could happen.

Now let's talk about how they add pitching depth. Obviously, they need a starter for their rotation, but one thing I found particularly interesting is how Woo mentioned adding minor-league depth. But if the Cardinals are in contention, how exactly do you do that?

This is where I start to get a little bit worried. When the Cardinals were struggling, I was all in on selling and trading Ryan Helsley. But if you want minor league depth, you're not going to be able to get it with minor league pieces. The only way for the Cardinals to do that is to trade Helsley, and I worry about this because now that they're playing well, it makes no sense to trade Helsley, especially with the way he's performed.

My hunch is that the Major League roster will be prioritized, as it should, which means trading Helsley is a hard no. But Woo did mention that everything depends on how the Cardinals close out the first half of the year and where they are at the deadline.

I wrote a piece a while back about how I worried the Cardinals could still be blown away with an offer for Helsley from a team like the Orioles or Dodgers. It would be similar to the Josh Hader trade in 2022, and as we know, that killed the vibe in the Brewers clubhouse. The same thing would happen if Helsey is dealt.

Still, it's interesting that Woo noted minor-league pitching depth as well as depth on the big-league roster, and it does suggest that there are a lot of avenues they could take. Let's just hope they prioritize Major League depth and don't take the route of trading Helsley unless things go south again. That would not be improving the roster, but adding a starter sure would be.