Baseball has just finished its 2023 season. About three months after the Cardinals were finished with theirs.
There is a lot of work to be done. It’s okay though, because the writers in this town have everything figured out. The Cardinals will sign a couple of top-of-the-rotation starters, trade Juan Yepez and a lifetime supply of toasted ravioli for Dylan Cease, and be right back in the playoffs next year.
I am writing this very slowly so everyone can understand. It. Ain’t. Happening.
As the great St. Louis philosopher John Mozeliak once said, “Trades are hard”. We need to be a bit more realistic about what a trade for a pitcher might look like. They call this the crazy season for a reason. Some of the trade proposals I am reading are just crazy. To take any trade proposal for the Cardinals seriously and to evaluate if it makes sense, I think there are ten elements that need to be analyzed before determining if a proposed trade makes any sense at all.
First, we need to understand that there are some players that won’t be traded. I doubt seriously if there is any way that Atlanta will trade Spencer Strider. So, while it’s nice to dream, slap your face now, wake up, and let’s stop thinking about anyone in this category.
Second, there are the players that probably won’t be traded. Think about the above-mentioned Dylan Cease. There were talks at the trade deadline that went nowhere. Unless a package completely overwhelms the Sox, it makes no sense for him to be mentioned in a trade proposal unless they are looking at a complete rebuild.
Third, there are some players that are problematic if you want to include them in a trade. Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Willson Contreras all have contracts that give them some say in where they will go. Other teams have the same. So, let’s take them out of the equation.
Fourth, the other team must be a good fit. If you want to move Goldschmidt for example, the Pirates probably aren’t a good fit. Does the other team, need first basemen? If they do need a first baseman is the team close enough to a World Series ring that it would make sense for them to take on the one year of his contract, even if they have the room in their budget? All these are factors.
Fifth, and probably most importantly, correctly value the players involved. Granted this is the hardest. Just because we really love a player, doesn’t mean he has a lot of value to other teams. FanGraphs has the top fifty or so ranked here. The Athletic and other publications have similar. There is also a great site that I like to use called Baseball Trade Values. They have a formula that values each player on each team’s roster. You plug in players on each side of the trade and it accepts or rejects as a fair trade. They have a 94% accuracy rate when they evaluate 571 real MLB trades.
Sixth, does the trade make both teams better? We need pitching and we offer an outfielder. They don’t need an outfielder so why do that?
Seventh, does the player have a personality? We have removed from this roster Randy Arozarena, Adolis Gracia, Joe Kelly, Harrison Bader, Tommy Pham, and a few others. If someone is proposing to trade for anyone the least bit flashy or opinionated, then it’s probably not happening with this team.
Eighth, does this player fit what the Cardinals are trying to do? Their stated goal is to make sure we get back to the playoffs. Now. This year. Does it make sense to trade for a player that has a track record for one year like Bryan Woo from the Mariners? In other words, does the proposed trade match the stated goals?
Ninth, is the writer proposing that we trade for someone like a Tommy Pham or Lance Lynn who has had some unkind things to say about the Cardinals before? If you do some digging the list of those players is growing.
Tenth, realize we are talking about the Cardinals. If the Angels decide they would be willing to trade Mike Trout or the Yankees want to trade Aaron Judge, we know the Cardinals could put together a package that would equal anyone. We can legitimately say that can happen. But at that point, we would be the dog that caught the Buick. What now? It is estimated that the Cardinals can find a bit over $60 million to spend this offseason. Trout makes $37 million and Judge makes $40 million. I would love to see it, but that is a Yankees or Dodgers move, not a Cardinal move.
There will be several articles about the possibility of the Cardinals making trades every day from now until the season starts, including a few of my own. We know trades are going to happen. Have fun with it. Keep checking this site for some of the better proposals. Just know that if you see your favorite player listed in a trade, use this as a checklist to help you determine if what you are reading makes sense.