Do the Cardinals have enough resources to reload for next year if they aren’t contenders?
John Mozeliak has his work cut out for him come the July 31st Trade Deadline if the Redbirds don’t turn it around. The problem is the club doesn’t seem to have enough resources to make a quick return to contention without which makes a blockbuster trade unlikely. They also have a farm system ranked 13th in the league by Keith Law of ESPN (Insider required) with their high ceiling prospects still years away. A full-scale rebuild would be a long, slow process given the Cardinals owe a total of $60.75 million to players with full no-trade clauses for 2018 (not including Molina’s $20 million). With the Reds and Brewers looking ahead of schedule on their respected rebuilds, the Cardinals window for contention is slamming shut. Mozeliak’s proven he’s able form winning teams, but is he a strong seller? Let’s look at three trade deadline moves the Cardinals can make to reload for 2018.
Adams (2016): 327 PA | (.248/.309/.471) | 16 HR | 0.6 WAR | 106 wRC+
Without a spot in the everyday lineup, the Cardinals shopped Matt Adams this past winter. Chances are he will be listening at the deadline as well. Adams wouldn’t yield much on the prospect side. A swap for a player of his caliber and a similar contract situation could help the team a lot in 2018 if he fits the need. A fourth outfielder could prove to be a need if Jose Martinez stops raking. Adams has no spot to play in St. Louis so maximizing his value should be the Cardinals priority with him
Seung Hwan Oh
Oh (2016): 79.2 IP | 1.92 ERA | 11.64 K/9 | 2.13 FIP | 2.3 WAR
When a team’s not contending, the first one to go is the valuable reliever in their walk year. Seung Hwan Oh’s 2 year $5.5 million he signed out of the KBO has been a steal for the Cardinals. He’s struggled early but if he can bounce back to perform near last season’s level, he could fetch a pretty hefty return with dominant relievers more valuable than ever. If Oh rounds back into form he could get you a team’s top 5 prospect in a package. He will be the first name to pop up if the Cardinals continue to struggle.
Lynn (2017): 17.1 IP | 3.12 ERA | 6.75 K/9 | 5.05 FIP | -0.1 WAR
Since Lance Lynn spent all of last season rehabbing from Tommy John, he’s less of a sure thing than he was in 2015. If he can resemble his numbers from that season, he would also be shopped since he hits free agency this winter. The Cardinals starting pitching depth is strong so losing Lynn shouldn’t have much impact for 2018 with Alex Reyes coming back from TJ and Luke Weaver having another year of experience. A healthy Lynn could get a top 10 prospect easily but if he isn’t fully back he could just as easily have no value at all.
Carpenter (2016): 129 games .271/.380/.505 | 21 HR | 3.2 WAR | 135 wRC+ | 0.75 BB/K
This probably will not happen but if the return’s right then why not? Carpenter’s now 31 so his best days could be behind him. He’s been a serviceable second baseman, third baseman, and now first baseman in his career while still being able to play all three for a contending team. His power probably hit its peak in 2015 but his great pitch selection and walk rate should age well enough to make his remaining $28.5 million (plus $18.5 million 2020 club option) a club friendly deal. The Red Sox come to mind with uncertainty at the corners with Sandoval and Moreland the starters. If Mozeliak makes Carpenter available, the deal will need to be over the top. But if a Carpenter trade is well executed, the payoff could be huge.
*All stats courtesy of Fangraphs
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