The Cardinals are on the hunt for starting pitching. They're going to need three arms to supplement their rotation.
In most cases, a buy-low option wouldn't be a very good idea. The Cardinals need bold action this winter and must look at the trade and free-agent markets as they try to upgrade their rotation. Pitchers like Blake Snell, Sonny Gray, and Aaron Nola should be and are on their radar.
But as far as buy-low options go, there might be one in Toronto that could be of use to the Cardinals in 2024 and beyond. Alek Manoah had a terrible 2023 season, but he could be a trade candidate. Derrick Goold noted that the Cardinals and Blue Jays match up as potential partners, as Toronto needs outfield help.
Manoah is not the only pitcher on the trade market who could help the Cardinals. Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber are also likely available, and the Cardinals could also try to swing a deal with the Mariners for Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, or Bryan Woo.
But in this piece, we will be focusing on Manoah and what he could bring to the Cardinals, should a trade with the Blue Jays come to pass.
The right-hander had a 5.87 ERA this year and was even demoted to the Florida Complex League on the heels of a top-three finish in the American League Cy Young race in 2022.
We will examine and discuss the pros and cons of a potential Manoah trade.
Despite his terrible 2023 season, Manoah has a ton of upside that shouldn't be overlooked. For starters, he's got swing-and-miss stuff in his arsenal and averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 and 8.2 per nine last season.
His strikeout rate per nine innings was not too shabby this year either. The problem was that he averaged 9.6 hits allowed per nine innings. More on that later.
Even after a terrible season, Manoah has the makings of somebody who could be a true ace for the Cardinals if acquired. He won 16 games in 2022 and had an ERA of 2.24. That was third behind Justin Verlander and Dylan Cease.
He also brings competitive fire to a team, and that could greatly benefit the Cardinals.
Given his struggles in 2023, he is a buy-low candidate, meaning the Cardinals could send one or both of Dylan Carlson and Tyler O'Neill back to the Jays in a trade. Obviously, that also means that the Cardinals wouldn't be giving up a whole lot, while also potentially clearing out the logjam in the outfield.
There is a lot of upside with Manoah. He is also only 25 years old and even has several years of club control left, whereas Bieber only has one year and Cease only has two.
If Manoah could bounce back in 2024, then the Cardinals will have gotten a ton of bang for their buck on a low-risk, high-reward trade, so it's certainly worth taking a closer look at.