The Cardinals were right to sell high on Richie Palacios

Richie Palacios had an electric 2023, but the Cardinals were right to move on from him
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

Amidst an awful 2023 season, the emergence of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Richie Palacios was one of the few bright spots. In June, the Cardinals acquired Palacios from the Guardians for cash considerations. After a dismal offensive performance with Cleveland in 2022, Palacios improved his OPS+ from 69 to 120. Sure, it was a small sample size, but Richie's peripheral numbers indicated that he wasn't just lucky.

Even with a plethora of injuries and underperformance, Palacios was limited to just 102 plate appearances in 32 games last season. He performed well enough to deserve a role on a Major League team in 2024, but with Lars Nootbaar, Jordan Walker, Brendan Donovan, Alec Burleson, and Dylan Carlson all but guaranteed to make the Cardinals' roster, Palacios would not figure into long term plans for St. Louis.

For once the Cardinals are selling high on a position player, something they failed to do with both Tyler O'Neill and Dylan Carlson, and maximized his value to gain an optimal return. After trading Palacios to Tampa Bay in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Andrew Kittredge, the Cardinals have added a much-needed high-leverage arm to bolster the bullpen trio of Helsley, Gallegos, and Romero while parting with a piece that wouldn't impact the team nearly as much.

Had the Cardinals dealt O'Neill and Carlson after the 2021 season when their value was at its maximum, they could've been in a much better spot in 2024. Of course, both figured into the Cardinals' plans quite well and nobody could've predicted their careers taking a turn for the worse, but with Palacios a minor piece in a growing outfield logjam, the Cardinals made the correct move in dealing him.

There's always the chance that we'll look back on this deal one day in the same light as the Randy Arozarena trade with the Rays, but that remains extremely unlikely. Moreover, the solidified outfield core of Walker, Nootbaar, and Victor Scott II soon to be called up should be more than enough for the Cardinals to boast one of the strongest outfields in all of baseball. The bullpen addition of Kittredge provides a much-needed arm for the Cardinals, and Palacios should slot into the Rays' lineup as a quality spark plug. Hopefully, this deal is a win-win for both teams.