In 2022, it looked like Patrick Sandoval put the pieces together to become the second starter for a respectable Angels' rotation. He posted a 2.91 ERA through 148.2 innings, and a 3.09 FIP. His only concern was a high 3.6 BB/9, contributing to a rather high 1.339 WHIP. He started 2023 off strong as well, tossing 4.1 scoreless on the International stage, pushing Japan to the brink of elimination in the WBC Semifinal with Mexico. Unfortunately, the rest of 2023 was quite the rocky season for Sandoval as he took several steps back.
Instead of improving his walk rate, it increased to 4.6 BB/9, and his ERA and FIP increased to 4.11 and 4.18 respectively. An extremely poor month of June, in which he posted an abysmal 7.11 ERA and walked 10 batters in 25.1 innings derailed a solid start to his season. As the Angels scuffled to the finish line after collapsing in July, Sandoval didn't help much as he recorded a 4.98 ERA through 21.2 innings.
However, removing those two bad months lowers his ERA to a very respectable 3.13. For the Angels, when things get bad they tend to spiral and get much worse. Had Sandoval's struggles been a bit smoother, he could've had a much better season. His poor performance also seemed to correlate directly with the Angels' successes on the field, perhaps due to their reliance on him as a frontline pitcher. In a Cardinals rotation where he'd slot in third or fourth instead of second, he can afford to struggle without the team also losing games.
With only three years of control left, it's unlikely the Angels will find themselves in contention before he hits free agency. Trading Sandoval will certainly help bolster the farm system. His potential as an All-Star caliber starting pitcher won't be cheap, however. The Cardinals may need to give up 2 to 3 top prospects, but they'd certainly prefer that over parting with proven talent in Nolan Gorman or Brendan Donovan.