The St. Louis Cardinals should trade these 2 young bats at the trade deadline

It will hurt, and it's risky, but I think this is the best way to maximize their outfield talent both on the field and in the trade market.
St. Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks
St. Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The Cardinals should trade Lars Nootbaar and Dylan Carlson, hold onto Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, and Tommy Edman

If you asked me a week ago, I would have said Nolan Gorman would be the central trade chip I would use at this deadline, and one of Dylan Carlson or Tommy Edman should be used to acquire pitching as well. I've changed my opinion on this a lot, and let me explain why.

I want to reiterate this though, this is all dependent on what kind of value the Cardinals can bring back for each of these players. According to reporting from Derrick Goold, the Cardinals have received a lot of calls on Tommy Edman and Lars Nootbaar, and there has also been interest reported in Dylan Carlson from the New York Yankees, among other teams. These are the guys people around the league want, which means they will bring back a good amount of value in a trade.

Now, it has also been reported that the Cardinals are shooting down calls on Nootbaar, Edman, and Jordan Walker. I agree on not shopping Walker, but I think every name on this list, except for Brendan Donovan, should be available for the right price. No, they shouldn't trade everyone, but I think they should be open to deals on anyone not named Walker or Donovan.

So why did I identify Nootbaar and Carlson as the two guys worth moving?

First, I believe Nootbaar is the guy who can bring a difference-maker into St. Louis for their rotation. Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson may get you intriguing prospects back, but they aren't going to bring in an established arm with control like Nootbaar can. I believe that Nootbaar can be the centerpiece in a deal for someone like Logan Gilbert, Bryan Woo, or Bryce Miller of the Mariners. The value those arms could bring to the Cardinals is something they desperately need.

There is an argument that Gorman could bring back that kind of return, but right now, I am not seeing that there is the same level of interest around the league in Gorman as there is in Nootbaar. Also, Gorman's profile as a hitter is something the Cardinals do not have a replacement for internally, while Brendan Donovan offers a very similar profile offensively as Nootbaar. The Cardinals also have names like new first-round pick Chase Davis and top prospect Victor Scott II coming soon, so there is long-term outfield help as well.

Carlson still has value though, and it appears like a package from the Yankees headlined by right-handed prospect Clayton Beeter, who just appeared in the MLB Futures Game and would be ready to be in the rotation by 2024, would be on the table from the Yankees.

For sake of argument, let's say the Cardinals get Logan Gilbert and Clayton Beeter for essentially Lars Nootbaar and Dylan Carlson (although I think the Cardinals would give up a little bit more in the Gilbert deal and get a bit more back from the Yankees in the Beeter deal), they've now added two cost-controlled arms to their starting rotation for the 2024 season. More on that later.

What does that leave the Cardinals with position player-wise? Outside of their veteran core, the Cardinals would still have Gorman, Donovan, Edman, and Walker, along with Alec Burleson and Masyn Winn, as well as options like Juan Yepez, Moises Gomez, and Luken Baker if they don't end up trading them.

I'll put together a lineup on the new slide, but that's still a strong position player group, and it clears some log jams the club has as well. On top of that, it opens up a ton of flexibility for the Cardinals this offseason.

John Mozeliak himself has referenced how there is "a lot coming off of the books", and that the Cardinals will have to invest dollars into free-agent pitching. Well, if they have Mikolas, Gilbert, Beeter, and Matz, along with guys like Matthew Liberatore, Gordon Graceffo, and potentially Tink Hence in the wings, it makes it a lot easier for the club to invest more money into higher-end pitching talent, rather than spreading the money out to mid-tier starters.

This also creates flexibility for the Cardinals to add a true center fielder, something they have really lacked since losing Harrison Bader, bring in a bat for the DH spot, or invest even more resources into their rotation or bullpen.

Let's take a look at how the roster could shake out next year.