Baseball

Grading the Cardinals Trade Deadline

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The Cardinals made 5 trades involving 16 players.

How did they grade out as sellers?

The Cardinals made their first seller splash in I don’t know how long, and they really didn’t do too badly for themselves. I’ve seen a lot of griping about the return; I don’t know what people were expecting, but we traded 2 good starters who are free agents after the season, 2 relievers who were solid and free agents after the season, and an infielder that couldn’t hit for average with an option for next season. There’s not much value there.

It’s important to remember that as fans, we tend to overvalue what we have and undervalue what others have. Flaherty seems worth more to us because we’ve seen him at this best. The rest of the MLB and fans only really see him when he pitches against their teams.

07/21/2023: St. Louis Cardinals traded LHP Genesis Cabrera to Toronto Blue Jays for C Sammy Hernandez.

Cabrera was frustrated with his role with the team and the team was ready to move on; since he was designated for assignment, the Cardinals really had limited options. The fact they got anything was a positive.

Hernandez received an above slot $200,000 bonus when he was drafted (teams were limited to $125,000 bonuses in the 11th round or later in 2022). At the time of the draft, Hernandez was projected to have plus raw power; unfortunately he hasn’t turned it into in game power. He’s still young and developing though, so we can’t discount him yet. He also played some third base in high school, but he’s expected to stay at catcher. He’s got a good arm and solid instincts behind the plate. No word on his pitch calling abilities, which is probably something the Cardinals should think about more often now.

Hernandez does not rank in the top 30 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s been assigned to the Florida Complex League.

Grade: As of right now, this is a C. Cabrera is what he is, but the grade could change if the Cardinals get anything from Hernandez; most of the time, the minor leaguer in a deal like this has a slim chance of making the majors.

07/30/2023: St. Louis Cardinals traded RHP Jordan Hicks to Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Adam Kloffenstein and RHP Sem Robberse.

The Cardinals wanted to retain Hicks, but he was sent away after an extension couldn’t be worked out. As a free agent reliever, there wasn’t much the Cardinals could do as far as a deal; no team is going to give up premium prospects in this case. The good news is Hicks is open to returning after the season. The only downside to trading him was losing out on the option for a qualifying offer.

Kloffenstein is a big boy (6’5″, 243 lbs) and doesn’t have much left to mature physically. Mid-90s fastball, tops out at 96, with sink; gets a lot of grounders on the pitch. Slider has good horizontal movement, causing swing and misses for righties. Solid change, sits mid-80s; good deception and fade that causes more swing and misses. Mid-70s curve with 11-5 movement; keeps hitters off balance but needs work as a viable pitch. Unorthodox mechanics with 3/4 arm slot, but repeatable. Solid command, but needs a little improvement for prolonged success. Projects as #5 starter; ceiling of #2-3 if he can improve command and improves the curve. Mechanics are risky though.

Kloffenstein ranks #22 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s been assigned to Memphis.

Robberse is a self-taught player from the Netherlands. Low 90s fastball; projected to sit mid-90s as he gets bigger. Good vertical movement on the pitch. Also has an average sinker. Curve sits around 80 MPH; above average spin on the pitch with movement. Slider sits 84-88, again with good movement. Has a changeup which is still being worked on; considered average at best. Good command of pitches. Considered more of a finesse pitcher at this point, but has the talent and mechanics to add to potential, along with a tall, lean frame which is starting to fill out. Good at making adjustments and taking instruction. Projects as MLB long-man in the bullpen based on current numbers and pitches; ceiling of #2 starter if he puts it all together. The good news about the numbers is he’s typically pitching against older competition.

Ranks #6 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s been assigned to Memphis.

Grade: B. Of the 2 pitchers, Kloffenstein is the safe pick for long-term success and the type of guy the Cardinals would draft, but Robberse has more potential. Overall, the package is solid, but they didn’t get an elite pitching prospect in return nor should they have.

07/30/2023: St. Louis Cardinals traded LHP Jordan Montgomery and RHP Chris Stratton to Texas Rangers for LHP John King, RHP Tekoah Roby and SS Thomas Saggese.

Montgomery was only here for a year, and what a year it was; he deserved better then his numbers showed. Texas gets an upgrade to the rotation. He should have been a guy that the Cardinals approached prior to the season to extend (which he was interested in); instead he sent out for a couple of young players.

Stratton was actually better then people give him credit for, but he’s one of those relievers that you can find on the junk heap every year that surprises everyone. I don’t think the team would be bringing him back next season, since they have some of these types in the minors already.

King has 3 years of MLB experience, so he’s headed into arbitration in the off-season, if he pitches well. He’s got OK stuff (low to mid-90s sinking fastball, generates groundballs) and OK numbers to back it up. The Cardinals have JoJo Romero, Andrew Suarez, and Packy Naughton who all project this way. He could be a non-tender candidate after the season; he was a throw in on the deal so the Cardinals could replenish the bullpen.

Roby throws low to Mid-90s fastball that could top out at 96-97 eventually; good sink. A potential above-average curve that sits in the upper 70s with 11-5 movement; struggles with consistent control and occasionally keeps it up in the zone. Change struggles to be average; it’s flat and he struggles to tunnel it at times (although, the arm-speed/tunneling can be on point with his fastball). Also has a slider that’s still a work in process. Command is generally around the plate, but it’s not good enough for MLB starting right now. Mechanics are solid and repeatable. Projects as a late inning reliever; ceiling of #2 starter. Has the potential to throw 4 pitches but none will truly stand out.

Ranks #4 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s been assigned to Springfield.

Saggese has a good, quick swing, but can be too aggressive at times. Power to the pull side; could hit 20 homers as he fills out. Decent pitch recognition and can work the count, but needs to improve as he faces more advanced pitching. Can play all 4 infield positions; mostly 2nd and 3rd, but saw some time at short as well. Speed is slightly below average and arm is average; projects to be more of a second baseman in the long run. Could be super-utility guy that the Cardinals like. Projects as utility infielder; ceiling of starting second baseman. Like Robberse, he’s younger than most of his competition.

Ranks #8 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s been assigned to Springfield.

Grade: B-. Both the prospects from the Rangers are solid and have a little projection. I could have done without King in the deal though; the groundball specialist hasn’t been very effective but the team needs some additional arms and he’ll get a shot.

08/01/2023: St. Louis Cardinals traded SS Paul DeJong and cash to Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Matt Svanson.

It’s sad that DeJong’s Cardinal career ended the way it did, but I’ve said all along that he was going to struggle to be a reliable Major Leaguer. Now, he’s a plus defender with pop; unfortunately, he can’t hit for average and strikes out too much. He’ll be a fine bench player, and he needed to be traded so the Cardinals would stop playing him everyday. I don’t think that the Cardinals were going to pick up his option, and they wouldn’t have issues a qualifying offer

Svanson was a 2021 13th round pick as a senior out of Lehigh University. He’s pitched in relief as a pro this season, with a few starts in previous years. Low 90s fastball that touched 96; plays up in the pros as a reliever, now sits mid-90s and touches 98. Slider and change, but neither seem that impressive. Groundball pitchers. Ceiling of middle reliever.

Svanson does not rank in the top 30 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s been assigned to Springfield.

Grade: C+. It’s actually a solid return for DeJong, who had to be moved to get Masyn Winn in the lineup (eventually, after August 15th). The face they got anything was a win; if Svanson can be a low leverage bullpen arm, it’s a win. Heck, he’s one of those bullpen arms that could be the next Stratton.

08/01/2023: St. Louis Cardinals traded RHP Jack Flaherty to Baltimore Orioles for 2B Cesar Prieto, LHP Drew Rom and RHP Zack Showalter.

Like Montgomery, Flaherty is another pitcher that should have been extended; he was interested in it during the spring and has noted that he always admired Adam Wainwright and Bob Gibson played their full Major League career with only the Cardinals. The Cardinals weren’t going to get an elite prospect for 2023 Flaherty; they missed that opportunity after 2019. They only thing they’ll miss now is that Qualifying Offer.

Prieto has a little power from the left side of the plate; he was expected to make more contact than he has a pro but can recognize pitches. He’s made adjustments as he’s advanced, but not as quickly as some analysts hoped. None of his qualities stand out, but all are at least average. He’s played second and third; looks like a third baseman in the long run. He could reach his ceiling as a starting third baseman; his floor is a utility player.

Prieto moves to #9 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s been assigned to Memphis.

Rom has average stuff and a deceptive delivery from 3/4 slot. Owns a high spin, low-90s fastball that his hard to hitters to get on top of. Slurve (a slider/curve hybrid type pitch) sits in the high-70s with good movement; considered near a plus pitch. Also has a split-change that is improving. Solid command in the lower minors, but has struggled with it as he’s advanced to AA/AAA. Most likely a back of the rotation starter; comped to J.A. Happ.

Rom slots in at #26 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’ll join the Major League club.

Showalter has a fastball that sits mid-90s that plays well up in the zone and could be a plus pitch; he’ll be able to add velocity as he matures. He owns a average slider that keeps righties on their toes; as he continues to generate spin, this could move to slightly above average. He’s working on a changeup, but lefties hit him hard; again, as he matures, the arm speed could push this up to an average pitch. He struggles with command, which scouts are hopeful that he can improve due to his smooth mechanics and athletic frame. He’s got the potential to be a #2-3 starter if the change progresses and he fixes his command; he’s more likely a bullpen arm.

Showalter is ranked #23 in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He’s going to Peoria.

Grade: B. I like this package for Flaherty; you have the safe pitcher and the projectable pitcher to go with a good hitting prospect.

Overall, the trade deadline was a B-/C+; you turned 5 potential free agents to be into 2 MLB relivers and 8 prospects of varying degrees. We won’t be able to truly judge the deadline until probably 2 years from now, when many of these guys will either be in the majors or out of the organization.

2 thoughts on “Grading the Cardinals Trade Deadline

  • SocraticGadfly

    Iā€™m not as impressed on the Flaherty package. And, on keeping him? If the Cards did offer the QO, would any other team have bit? Doubt it.

    • Eugene Tierney

      He’d probably be inclined to take the QO before testing the market; it’ll be close to $19M on a 1 year deal, which isn’t too bad, plus it’ll make him ineligible to get another QO during his career. If he were to sign on the off chance, the Cardinals would get a pick; probably after the 3rd round. At that point, the potential for the player making the majors is slim, so why not take the chance on 3 more established prospects, 2 who rank pretty highly in our system?

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