While Spring Training is right around the corner, there are still a ton of players available in free agency and teams who still want to make some trades, meaning the St. Louis Cardinals still have opportunities to improve the club further before they start camp in Jupiter.
While the most likely upgrade remains signing another established reliever, there remains the possibility that they make a trade for more pitching, and Jordan Shusterman of FOX Sports connected them to that in a "win-win" trade proposal with the San Diego Padres.
In his piece where he suggested 9 different deals that would benefit both sides, Shusterman suggested that the Cardinals trade outfielder Alec Burleson to the Padres in exchange for one of the right-handed pitchers they acquired in the Juan Soto trade, either Randy Vasquez or Jhony Brito.
For San Diego, if you take a quick glimpse at their lineup, is in massive need of some corner outfield help. Their lineup was very top-heavy even with Juan Soto in the fold, but now that he's gone, their lineup gets significantly weaker after you get past their trio of Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres also lack left-handed bats in their lineup, with only Jake Cronenworth and non-roster invitee Cal Mitchell hitting from that side on their projected Opening Day Roster.
St. Louis has been looking to add upside to its group of arms. While neither Vasquez nor Brito project to be a front-end starter, both are young arms who just came from the Yankees system that has been praised around baseball for its ability to develop "stuff". The Padres added a lot of arms in the Soto trade and would likely be open to moving one in order to improve their lineup.
In my opinion, although the theory of the deal makes sense (our own Thomas Gauvain just suggested a Burleson deal to San Diego and the pieces he suggested would entice me more), I don't believe he's worth moving for those arms at this moment. While the Cardinals have a bad habit of hanging onto position players too long and not capitalizing on their value, they've also been burned for selling low on guys who have not had much of an opportunity to prove themselves.
While Burleson's rookie year was disappointing overall, the numbers have indicated that he was one of the unluckiest players in all of baseball last year. He's someone the organization thinks highly of, and for good reason, and he seems like a guy who could come back to bite them immediately if they were to cut bait now. Even though Burleson is a guy who doesn't have a clear, consistent role at the moment, playing time opens up significantly for him if an injury or two occurs, or if he underperforms to begin the year.
Honestly, I think a deal like this, whether it's with the Padres or someone else, would be available for the Cardinals later in the season if needed. But I also think that if Burleson has a stronger start to 2024, he could fetch them a fair bit more in terms of value, or be included in a package for a front-end starter.
I like the thought process here, but unless it's a deal for one of the guys Thomas Gauvain suggested, I'll pass on this move with the Padres.