Lance Lynn has had a great career with the St. Louis Cardinals, but the time is now for both sides to move on.
After fleecing the Seattle Mariners early Friday morning, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak had some harsh words about the current state of his team.
Citing a need to change the culture in the Cardinals clubhouse, Mozeliak said, “it’s tough to justify going out and solely playing for this year…” (from STLToday.com) After this statement, the Cardinals promptly dropped the hammer on the Cubbies with an 11-4 victory at Wrigley Field.
I do not think a single day on the calendar could define the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals better than yesterday. After a rocky morning filled with many questions about rebuilding the roster, the team responded by playing hard and grinding out tough at bats in the 8th inning to rally for a big win.
The direction is about as unclear tonight as it was this morning, but you can never complain about wins… right?
However, after seeing how easy it was to acquire the #2 prospect in an organization (albeit, an organization with a weak farm system) for a pitcher that could not make the Cardinals 25 man roster, resisting the temptation of selling to other contenders becomes difficult.
If Mozeliak, Mike Girsch, and company could receive that high quality of a player for Marco Gonzales, you have to wonder what they could get for players like Seung hwan Oh, Lance Lynn, or Trevor Rosenthal.
Out of those three Cardinals pitchers, the one with the most trade value at this point would have to be Lance Lynn. Coming off Tommy John surgery in 2016, Lynn has bounced back tremendously so far in 2017 and has arguably been the Cardinals’ best pitcher so far this season.
Assessing Lance Lynn’s Trade Value
Through 114.2 innings pitched, Lynn boasts an ERA 0f 3.30, a WAR of 2.3, and a WHIP of 1.12 while punching out 101 hitters and giving free passes to only 39. The long ball has hurt Lynn more than usual in 2017, but that is the only definite negative to his pitching performance thus far.
All signs so far have shown that Lynn has easily returned to his old self after the major operation, so many teams around the league will not let the procedure effect his value very much if at all.
The main factor hurting Lance Lynn’s trade value at the moment is the fact that he will become a free agent after the 2017 season, so essentially a team would be acquiring Lynn as a “rental” for a postseason race and hopefully a deep playoff run.
So far, the only July trade that has been made for a major rental player was the Arizona Diamondbacks acquisition of outfielder J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers. Many believed that this trade was a steal for Arizona, as they only gave up one of their top five prospects along with a couple other young players.
This was not considered to be a great haul for Martinez, who was considered to be one of the best power hitters on the trade market before the deadline.
Should the Cardinals be worried by this Arizona-Detroit deal? Perhaps. While rentals will certainly generate less of a prospect haul, power hitting is certainly easier to acquire than solid starting pitching. The 2016 offseason taught us that lesson, as power hitters received far less money than expected.
With all that said, let’s look at some potential hauls the Cardinals could receive from contending teams around the league.
Potential Trade Partners with Cardinals for Lance Lynn
1.) New York Yankees
Losing Michael Pineda for the season to Tommy John surgery was an extremely tough blow for the Yankees, as it removed one of their top pitchers from their starting rotation. While young pitchers such as Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino have stepped up so far, many expect the two to come down to earth at some point soon.
Obviously, the Bronx Bombers have devastated the American League this season with towering home runs and monster offensive games. However, when it comes down to October, games are won with pitching.
The Yankees did their part to improve their bullpen by trading for David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, but now it is time for New York to improve their starting rotation heading into the stretch run.
As desperate as the Yankees are for starting pitching help, the Cardinals should ask for two Top 10 prospects in a loaded New York farm system. While the Yankees were in a rebuilding mode coming into 2017, they have quickly learned that the time to win is now and have been willing to shed prospects for help on the major league roster. That being said, here is my Mock Cardinals and Yankees trade:
- Yankees Receive: RHP Lance Lynn, 1B/2B/3B Jedd Gyorko
- Cardinals Receive: SS/2B Jorge Mateo (NYY #3 Prospect), LHP Justus Sheffield (NYY #6 Prospect), RHP Freicer Perez (NYY #24 Prospect), INF Thairo Estrada (NYY #27 Prospect)
2.) Houston Astros
Just like the Yankees, the Houston Astros need starting pitching depth. The Cardinals and Astros would have to shed any bad blood that they have from the hacking scandal, as Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was a Cardinals employee for almost a decade.
The Astros farm system is absolutely loaded, so the Cardinals have a lot to choose from here. Let’s get right to this mock trade:
- Astros Receive: RHP Lance Lynn
- Cardinals Receive: RHP Franklin Perez (HOU #6 Prospect), SS/2B Miguelangel Sierra (HOU #10 Prospect), 1B Yordan Alvarez (HOU #14 Prospect)
In this deal, the Astros would be trading solely for Lynn. Due to the short term rental, the Astros would likely be unable to deal any Top 5 prospect. With that said, the Cardinals would still acquire 3 of the Astros Top 15 prospects, including a 2017 Futures Game participant in Alvarez.
3.) Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are another team that is loaded on the offensive end but need help from a pitching standpoint.
Right now, it is unclear whether the Rockies will be buying at the deadline as the division seems a bit out of reach considering the deficit they must climb to reach the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The one thing that remains clear with Colorado is that if they do start buying, they will need pitching, pitching, and more pitching. In order to acquire the pitching that they need, they must be willing to sacrifice. Here’s the mock trade between St. Louis and Colorado:
- Rockies Receive: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Seung hwan Oh, SS Delvin Perez (STL #5 Prospect)
- Cardinals Receive: SS Brendan Rodgers (COL #1 Prospect, #10 Prospect in MLB), RHP Justin Lawrence (COL #29 Prospect)
The Colorado Rockies front office has been straightforward in their statement on Brendan Rodgers: he’s untouchable. What do I say to that? Every man has his price (and his competitive window). The Rockies have a great team in place, an unbelievable office, and a lot of players who will hit free agency soon.
I believe the Rockies should go for it this year. They can absolutely catch the Diamondbacks to earn home field in the Wild Card Game and perhaps catch the Dodgers with the help of Lynn and Oh. If it does not work out, they still have an insurance policy in Perez.
On the other hand, the Cardinals would have a face of the franchise type player at shortstop. Brendan Rodgers is an unbelievable prospect that could help out the Cardinals for many years to come.