Predicting the Cardinals' trade deadline strategy: Will they buy, sell, or both?

The Cardinals are once again off to a bad start, with the offense being the main culprit. There's a lot of season left, but how they play will once again dictate their trade deadline strategy.
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

The Cardinals' bats have been quiet and are responsible for their 14-17 start. The pitching has been just fine.

It's obviously still very early in the season. There is certainly time for the Cardinals to turn it around, as they're only 5.5 games back of first place in the NL Central and two games back of the final Wild Card spot. It's not time to give up just yet.

But while this year's start may be slightly better than last year's, it's fair to wonder what the Cardinals might do at the trade deadline.

This year's deadline is on July 30. Of course, it all depends on where the Cardinals are by then and how they play leading up to that day.

But what is the most likely path based on what we're seeing right now?

What will the Cardinals do at the trade deadline?

We'll start by pointing out the obvious. The offense is the problem, not the pitching.

John Mozeliak's moves to bolster the rotation have paid off and the bullpen is performing quite well too with a solid back-end trio of JoJo Romero, Andrew Kittredge, and National League Reliever of the Month Ryan Helsley.

Yes, the Cardinals are down a few pieces, and getting them back should help, but they won't make the offense elite.

At the beginning of every season, fans always hope that their teams will end up buying at the deadline, and that is what Cardinals fans should hope for and even plan on as of right now. Despite their bad start, they haven't buried themselves like they did after last year's 10-24 beginning. They are still very much in the mix.

If the Cardinals do buy at the deadline, the most obvious thing to fix would be the offense as of now, and maybe trading for a J.D. Martinez-type hitter would be the way to go. This is of course assuming they're still in the mix by then.

However, if they can't get to .500 and stay there, they'll fall out of contention. This is where selling might become an option. They sold at last year's trade deadline, and it might make sense to sell off some pieces such as Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn. They could also look into trading Paul Goldschmidt, who is in the final year of his contract.

Though fans should hope for and plan on seeing the team act as buyers, the way the Cardinals are playing suggests otherwise, and if they're still performing like they are now, selling becomes the most logical option.

But is there a world where the Cardinals could act as buyers and sellers? Sure. This was actually what I was hoping they would do last season so they could get a head start on the offseason.

The most logical way this becomes possible is if the Cardinals are at or over .500, but more than five or six games out in both the Wild Card and division, similar to the Yankees in 2016 and the Red Sox in 2022. The Yankees were mainly sellers that year, but they still added some pieces that helped them right away. Boston made moves in both directions.

I'm sure fans don't like hearing me say that Goldschmidt should be traded, but he's going to be 37 in September and he's in the final year of his contract. See what you can get for him while you still can, so you are not left with nothing when he more than likely leaves in the offseason.

But they can also get some young players that might be Major League ready in exchange, both on the pitching side and the offensive side that could help the team now and in the future. Meanwhile, they can also add other pieces to keep them afloat and give them a chance to still reach the postseason.

If they keep playing like this however, then it might be time to sell off some pieces again.