The Cardinals packaging Steven Matz in a deal for Tyler Glasnow makes too much sense

If the Cardinals want to get creative with their rotation this offseason, Steven Matz could help them get their next high-upside starter.

Wild Card Series - Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game One
Wild Card Series - Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game One / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals have been creative in the past, and finding a way to package Steven Matz in a trade for Rays' Tyler Glasnow would be an excellent way to do so.

Wait, what? Didn't they just sign Sonny Gray? Aren't they done adding starting pitching? Not so fast.

The Gray news is still very fresh, so reporting will continue to be updated on what the Cardinals plan on doing. What is clear is three things.

1. They want to make bullpen upgrades.
2. They are interested in moving some of their depth bats, especially the likes of Dylan Carlson and/or Tyler O'Neill.
3. The Cardinals will continue to monitor the trade market for both starters and relievers.

Now, it's still unclear how strongly they want to add another starting pitcher, but if this recent report from Michael Marino and Jack Azoulay-Haron is correct, the Cardinals may be looking to move on from Steven Matz, opening up the possibility of adding another top arm.

First, take this with a grain of salt. I'm waiting to hear more reporting on this before I count it as a legit story. But either way, the idea makes a lot of sense, and that's why I want to cover this.

Before I get into a potential Glasnow trade, let me explain why teams would be interested in Matz. Matz is set to make $11 million in both 2024 and 2025, which is the same as what Lance Lynn got and less than what Kyle Gibson and Kenta Maeda have signed for this offseason. Yes, Matz has been hurt too much the last two years, but he came into his own after losing his rotation spot and was excellent in his return to the rotation in 7 starts.

If Matz was on the free agent market right now, he would likely get a minimum of $11 million per year, so odds are a team trading for him is going to get a bit of a bargain in terms of the AAV. Enter the Tampa Bay Rays.

Why are the Rays moving on from Glasnow? To free up money. They still need starting pitching, and if they go to the free agent market, they will have to pay $11m-$15m annually minimum to whatever starter they pursue. Why not get Matz back in return for Glasnow?

Matz alone would not get a deal done for the Cardinals, and I don't think they should move him unless it's to make an upgrade like this. Glasnow's $25 million salary is likely too much to swallow with their current payroll commitments, but if they include Matz in the trade, that brings the incoming money down to $14 million. That is a lot more feasible for St. Louis.

So if I'm the Cardinals, I'm calling up the Tampa Bay Rays right now and offering a deal within this framework.

Cardinals receive: Tyler Glasnow

Rays receive: Steven Matz, an MLB outfielder (O'Neill, Carlson, or Burleson), and a lower-end prospect (like McGreevy, Prieto, Bedell, etc.)

The Rays would shed salary and bring back an impact starter who they will likely find a way to unlock even more, a controllable bat for their lineup in Carlson or Burleson (or a bounce-back candidate in O'Neill), and a prospect to sweeten the pot. According to Mark Sheldon, Reds beat writer for MLB.com, this is the kind of return the Rays are looking for.

The Cardinals get a starter with extremely high upside without giving up their best young players and now have the rotation in place to mitigate the risk of injury that Glasnow carries.

Gray, Mikolas, Lynn, and Gibson are a solid foundation from an innings and durability standpoint, and if you slot Glasnow in as the number two starter, it takes this rotation to a much higher level. If Glasnow ever misses starts, guys like Zach Thompson, Matthew Liberatore, Gordon Graceffo, or others can backfill those starts.

Keep an eye on the Matz rumors as the Winter Meetings approach. The Cardinals are not done making moves, so we'll see if Glasnow remains on their radar. If not, maybe a deal for the White Sox's Dylan Cease still has some momentum.


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