The Cardinals' trash isn't another team's treasure

Expensive players who are underperforming won't fetch enough at the trade deadline to justify sending them away.
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game Two
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game Two / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

I've seen some discourse recently on the Cardinals' Twitter-sphere about trading veteran players like Giovanny Gallegos, Miles Mikolas, and Matt Carpenter, among others. In a vacuum, this would make sense; these three are not performing well, and there are better options on the trade market. Why not trade these guys for all they're worth?

The issue is that expensive, underperforming, and old players typically have little to no trade value. In the case of Gallegos, his trade value is likely zero. Giovanny Gallegos is in the final year of his 2-year extension he received in October 2022. There's a club option for 2025 worth $6.5 million, and the Cardinals will absolutely decline that option barring a monstrous second half. Not a single team will take on the remainder of his $5.5 million salary this year given his 10.80 ERA, 3.86 HR/9, and 14% walk rate. In fact, it's most likely Gallegos will become a DFA candidate once players like Riley O'Brien and Steven Matz return from injuries.

Matt Carpenter is in a similar bucket, albeit with a lower price tag. Carpenter is signed for the league minimum this year -- $740,000. That's a rounding error for some organizations. While the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners both need an infielder, particularly one on the corners. The Mariners could use a designated hitter, but Carpenter is slashing just .250/.330/.350 on the year; that's a below-average hitter who is nearly 39 and has limited defensive viability anymore. Carp's trade value doesn't exist.

Miles Mikolas is slightly different than the other two players on this list; he's still a decent starter despite being prone to some blow-up innings. Mikolas has a 5.32 ERA in 94.2 innings; that's a fine line for a fifth starter, but the issue is that Mikolas is being paid like a middle-of-the-rotation starter with his $18.5 million price tag. He's pegged for the same total next year as well. There isn't a team out there that needs a starting pitcher and is willing to take on Mikolas's salary.

What separates Mikolas, Gallegos, and Carpenter from players like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt would be track records. Goldy and Nado are likely Hall of Famers; not one of Gallegos, Mikolas, and Marp will receive Hall of Fame votes. The Cardinals won't get much should they trade either Paul Goldschmidt or Nolan Arenado, and they'll likely have to eat some salary, but those two still hold enough value to consider trading them.

It may sound easy to just "dump" struggling veterans, but it isn't feasible. The Cardinals players who are struggling hold no value on their own on the open market, and they'll only hurt the return on a possible package.