Colorado Rockies: Justin Lawrence, RHP
Reliever Justin Lawrence was one of the few bright spots in 2023 for the perennially underperforming Colorado Rockies. His 3.72 ERA was second on the team to Brent Suter, and his 1.4 WAR trailed only starter Kyle Freeland. Lawrence's arsenal consists of only two pitches: a sinker and a sweeper. The sinker is a necessity in the homer-friendly Coors Field, but the Cardinals have had a propensity for sinkers for several years.
Lawrence had a 50.1% ground ball rate last year, but he isn't a pitch-to-contact type; he struck out 78 batters in 75 innings. The Cardinals would love a pitcher who gets ground balls and also racks up a fair number of K's, and Lawrence fits that box.
The Rockies aren't looking to compete anytime soon, so they will likely be on the hunt for young pitching talent. Although the Cardinals aren't overflowing with pitching prospects, their longtime emphasis on the sinker could mean they have a player at the lower levels who shows some promise to be able to pitch in Colorado.
Detroit Tigers: Reese Olson, RHP
The Detroit Tigers are scouring for middle infield talent, and their young rotation could be a position to deal from. Reese Olson, a 13th-round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, was traded to the Tigers for Daniel Norris in 2021, and that deal is looking shrewd for Detroit.
Olson wasn't effective in Triple-A before his debut, as he sputtered to a 6.38 ERA, but when called up as a reinforcement, he did surprisingly well. In 18 starts in his rookie season, Olson had a 4.32 ERA and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. In September, he was among the best pitchers in the game, with a 1.44 ERA.
Olson's pitches have a lot of movement to them, as Baseball Savant puts his slider at 4.1 inches of drop above average. His best pitch appears to be his least used: Olson's curveball had a .167 opposing batting average and 5.5 inches of vertical break above average.
If the Cardinals were to acquire Olson, they should emphasize his curveball, as he threw it only 101 times in 2023. The 24-year-old is rife with potential and could be a key piece in a trade for a Cardinals infielder.