Making the right trade decision for the Cardinals: Dylan Cease or Jesus Luzardo?

The St. Louis Cardinals could use another high-end starting pitcher, and Jesus Luzardo and Dylan Cease are both available. Which pitcher is the better choice?
Miami Marlins v San Diego Padres
Miami Marlins v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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Jesus Luzardo

Jesus Luzardo is a more recent riser in baseball. Fans of the Miami Marlins are familiar with him, as he was a part of their rising star pitchers including Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, and Edward Carbera. National fans, however, may not be as familiar with the southpaw out of Peru.

Luzardo's downside would be his injury history. 2023 was his first full season of his career, and he has quite an extensive injury history. A spattering of injuries in 2021 and 2022 led him to pitch right around 100 innings each season. Luzardo allows a concerning amount of barrels (8.7% career rate, MLB average is 6.9%) and home runs.

Luzardo has pitched significantly fewer innings these past two years (279 innings) than Dylan Cease has. He sports a 3.52 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 1.154 WHIP, and a 124 ERA+. He and Cease get to a near-identical point based on ERA+, but they do it in two very different ways. Cease, via limiting home runs and reliability, is able to maintain a lower ERA. Luzardo, however, has shown a greater ability to get strikeouts while sacrificing some hard hits.

Miami is looking to contend next year, so they'll likely ask for at least one MLB player. Nolan Gorman seems to be the most likely candidate for a trade to Miami. He can play second or third base, and he would shine as a designated hitter, something the Marlins need after the departure of Jorge Soler.

Luzardo has one extra year of team control left compared to Dylan Cease, and he would likely cost the Cardinals less in a trade than Dylan Cease would. St. Louis could hoard its top prospects and instead trade for a bonafide starter. As recently as December, the Marlins were eyeing first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino from the Kansas City Royals. This potential trade shows that Miami is targeting MLB players rather than prospects.

Personally, I would prefer we trade for Jesus Luzardo instead of Dylan Cease. Luzardo's injury concerns give me pause, but his strikeout numbers, his ability to stay healthy in 2023, and his team control are all tantalizing. Cease will likely cost the Cardinals three of their top-10 prospects, and he will be a free agent a full year earlier than Luzardo.

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