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Cardinals Trade Deadline Strategy

Deadline Bettina Woolbright/ via


Cardinals Trade Deadline Strategy

A lot of debate has come about lately, about whether the Cardinals should be buyers, or sellers, as the trade deadline approaches.  Bill DeWitt himself may have said it best, “we’re not buyers or sellers, we’re dealers.”  Mr. DeWitt believes the Cardinals still have a chance to compete this season, but also knows improvements should be made for the future.  The front office will probably be making some of those improvements, by the July 31st deadline.

Direction of the 2017 Season

So far, the Card have not faired well, in the 2017 season.  They currently sit at 44-47, and have not seen the .500 mark since June 2.  The offense has struggled.  The bullpen is another major weakness.  And, although it’s been better lately, the defense has struggled for the second straight season.  The Cubs threw a major blow by acquiring Quintana, and are still in the running to add Sonny Gray.  The Brewers are making improvements in the bullpen, and are also targeting Gray.  The chances of missing the playoffs for a second straight season are growing by the day.

However, an addition of a big bat and a bullpen arm may be enough to get the Cards back into October.  They are still within 7.5 games of the Wild Card, and 6.5 games of the Brewers.  They have overcome larger deficits, although they will need to make some noise via the trade, to overcome these.

Trade Deadline Options

The fact that the Cards are still reasonably in the hunt, makes it hard to just sell off all of their assets for prospects.  However, on the other hand, there are enough major holes on the roster, to make it hard to give up too much for rental players.  This puts them in a tough spot, and their best bet may be to be just what DeWitt said they are, dealers.

Lance Lynn

There are players out there that could make the Cardinals respectable this season and set the foundation for 2018.  Lance Lynn should be traded.  That will hurt some Cardinal fan’s feelings, but it makes the most sense for the team.  With the starting pitching they have upcoming, Weaver, Reyes, Flaherty, etc., the price tag that Lynn will have this offseason, and with his current trade value, now is the right time to let him go.  He would likely bring a decent return, to bolster the farm system, and the Cards would not have to give him a $100 million deal.

Impact Bats on the Market

Josh Donaldson

The need for a power bat is more than obvious.  What is not as obvious, is who they should acquire to fill the void.  The front office has been very candid about their realization that a three-hole guy does not exist within the organization.  Josh Donaldson would improve the team both offensively, and defensively, and is under control through 2018.  They have reportedly expressed interest in Donaldson, though nothing more has come of it.  Another guy that they have expressed interest in, and would improve the team on both sides of the ball, is Giancarlo Stanton.

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton would also be under control through at least 2020, when he has the ability to opt out of his 13 year contract early.  He would come at a price though, in every sense of the phrase.  Not only does he carry a $325 million contract, the Marlins would be looking for an impressive return.  It may be worth it, though, as the Cardinals have both the money, and the prospects.  Stanton, at age 27, would make an immediate impact and would continue to do so for years to come.

J.D. Martinez

Finally, maybe the most likely acquisition, of these three possibilities, would be that of J.D. Martinez.  That’s right, another Martinez.  J.D. just won the A.L. Player of the Week honors, with a .455 average, a pair of homers, and seven RBI.  In just 198 at bats in 2017, Martinez is hitting .308, with 16 home runs, 39 RB, and a 1.025 OPS.  His 162 game averages are .283/.340/.495, 28 home runs, and 94 RBI.  He is a guy at 29, that the Cardinals could pencil into the three hole every day, for the next 4-5 seasons.  The downside comes with his average to below average defense, and his contract.  Most people see him as just a rental because he is in the last year of his contract, but who is to say he would not wan to resign?  The Cardinals have the money and they would surely make a strong effort to resign him.

Other Needs

Other needs the Cardinals should address, for this year, and next, are the bullpen, and the shortstop position.  The Cardinals bullpen leads all of baseball with 18 losses.  And Oh’s steady decline has re-introduced the search for a closer.  Guys on the market, that could help the pen, include former Cardinal Pat Neshek, Zach Britton, and Brad Bach.  Unfortunately, Neshek is 36, and Britton and Bach would require a pretty good package to obtain.  Which may not be available if the Cards give up a lot for a more necessary power hitter.

Wacha in the Closer’s Role

It would still require the front office to make a pretty big trade, but Michael Wacha may be a good fit as the closer.  If Girsch could acquire a starter like Sonny Gray, not only would it keep the other Central teams from improving, it would allow Wacha to move to the pen.  In which case, his high-velocity fastball, and devastating change-up could make him one of the best closer’s in the game.  We all know what Rivera did with just one pitch.  That is not to say Wacha would be Rivera, but two plus pitches could make him very effective in the ninth.


For the time being, and likely for the rest of the season, Paul DeJong is a serviceable big-league shortstop.  In fact, he looks like Ozzie Smith compared to Diaz.  However, the Cardinals could definitely benefit from getting a plus defender up the middle at the deadline.  The problem is the only player in the Cardinals organization who might be that guy, is 18-year-old Delvin Perez.  Perez is still a few years off, and he was just demoted to the Gulf Coast League, from short-season Class-A.  Unfortunately, teams are not really fond of giving up their talented shortstops, that are at the Major League level.  The acquisition of a shortstop would be something to look at by possibly trading Lynn at the deadline. In return for Lynn, the Cards may be able to bring in a promising, young minor league shortstop, that is closer to the big leagues than Perez.