What Under the Radar Moves Make the Cardinals Better Suited for a Playoff Run?

The entire city of St. Louis is well aware the Cardinals need to acquire some game changing talent to be a serious contender for another division title. The Cardinal fanbase also knows that realistically, the front office will make more “under the radar” moves to patch the holes in the roster.

We can speculate all we want about potential moves for Josh Donaldson, JD Martinez, and other big names on the block, but we all secretly know it won’t happen. Even more so given the Cardinals hacking penalties in the draft and international signing. So instead of dreaming about the first superstar acquisition since Matt Holliday in 2009, here’s three realistic trade scenarios the Cardinals will consider before the deadline.

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Curtis Granderson

2017 Stats (167 PA) | .173/.246/.340 | 4 HR | 55 wRC+ | -2.5 UZR | -0.4 WAR

The New York Mets came into the season with an outfield logjam of Granderson, Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto. They tried to trade Bruce before the season but there wasn’t enough interest that would help the Mets make a run at the Nationals in the East. However, with the club struggling mightily due to injuries and under production, they will be less inclined to hold onto Bruce or Granderson who will be free agents after this season.

The Cardinal outfield is struggling to receive solid production from all three positions as Grichuk, Fowler, and Piscotty are all underperforming through the first two months. Grichuk specifically has started to see his playing time give way to Tommy Pham who is raking since being called up in early May.

The club can’t count on Pham to continue his production the entire season, however, if Grichuk and Piscotty can’t turn it around. Adding a rental like Granderson, 36, to platoon against right handers could be a shot in the arm for the Cardinal offense while providing above average defense and speed in a corner outfield spot.

If the Cardinals believe Granderson can perform like the 30 homer threat he was last year, he could be a solid pick up for a club struggling offensively. Given Granderson’s own slow start and age, he should come relatively cheap at the cost of a low intrigue minor leaguer. Taking a small risk on the offensive potential for Granderson against right handers makes a lot of sense for the struggling offense.

Pat Neshek

2017 Stats (17.1 IP) | 1.04 ERA  | 7.79 K/9 | 0.87 WHIP | 2.57 FIP | 5 Holds

A familiar face in St. Louis after a breakout performance for the Cardinals in 2014, Neshek is having another great season out of the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen. The Cardinals have a need for bullpen stability to slot in the 7th inning behind Oh and Rosenthal. With inconsistency from Siegrist, Broxton, and the newly acquired Brett Cecil, the Cardinals don’t have a solid option to hold down the 7th inning set up role.

The Cardinals figure to be in the hunt for bullpen help at the deadline but with the market for high end relievers at a premium, they need to be in the market for a less coveted anchor in the pen. Neshek, 36, is a free agent after this season without a dominant season outside of 2014 and this year. The Phillies could command a top 20 prospect out of the Cardinals which is a low price to pay for much needed stability in the 7th inning.

Jose Bautista

2017 Stats (205 PA) | .241/.361/.429 | 8 HR | 117 wRC+ | -1.4 UZR | 0.5 WAR

On the surface, a trade for Joey Bats doesn’t seem like an under the radar move for the Cardinal front office. His polarizing style of play and name recognition make a trade for him seem like a potential blockbuster. But Bautista, 36, is in the decline stage of his career while being owed a whole lot of money ($17 million in 2017, $20 million mutual option for 2018) by a Blue Jays team struggling in the loaded AL East.

The contract coupled with underwhelming production and injuries in 2016 and 2017 makes his trade value significantly low for a player of Bautista’s reputation. With the same outfield needs present that were highlighted when discussing Granderson, Bautista could provide a lot of production in the middle of the order for a struggling Cardinals offense.

If the Blue Jays decide it is time to start a rebuild, having an older player on the roster making big money is less than ideal. For Bautista, playing for a non-contender at this stage of his career is less than ideal. If the Cardinals take on all of his salary, they could get him for just a top 20 prospect.

If the Blue Jays eat part of the contract, however, he would command a top 10 prospect. The Cardinals have the payroll flexibility to take on Bautista’s large, short-term contract though. So it’s just a matter of if the front office is willing to overpay monetarily for great power out of a declining player with a long track record of superstardom.

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*All stats courtesy of Fangraphs

Photo Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports