Baseball

Redbird Droppings: Trade Rumors Part 1

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Redbird Droppings looks at some recent trade rumors

Redbird Droppings

With the All Star game a week away, rumors are starting to pick up; the trade deadline is July 30 and teams will start really putting feelers out about who will be buys and who will be sellers. As of right now, the Cardinals appear to be buyers.

Cardinals acquire RHP Zach Eflin (SI.com) – Eflin has pitched fairly well this season, and is under contract for another season. He’s making $11M this season (so half of that is still to be paid) and $18M next. He’s a definite upgrade, but he’s also a guy that has struggled to stay healthy; 2018-19 were the only consecutive seasons where he’s pitched over 100 innings, although he’s on pace to do it again this year with last.

As for the return, the Rays are needing outfield help; both at the Major League and Minor League level. They’ll probably ask for someone like Victor Scott II, but settle for someone the next level down: Matt Koperniak for example. They’d also take some pitching as well.

Cardinals acquire RHP Erick Fedde (SI.com) – SI also has the Cardinals tied to Fedde from the White Sox; while Garrett Crochet would be a better option, it appears that the Sox would rather trade Fedde. He was a highly touted prospect with the Nationals who never put it together; a year in Korea put him on the right track to come back to the State and succeed (sounds like Miles Mikolas). Fedde is in the first year of a 2 year deal, set to make $7.5M next season.

It sounds like a prospect package could get the hurler. I don’t see any top level guys, like Tink Hence or Scott II, in play here; more likely a couple of mid-level guys.

Cardinals acquire OF Luis Robert Jr. (SI.com) – Sticking with SI and the White Sox, the Cardinals are reportedly interested in Robert, the top offensive player that will probably be available. Robert can play a solid CF and can hit, both things the Cardinals need; not only can he hit, he smashes lefties (albeit in a small sample). And the interest isn’t surprising; the Cardinals courted Robert when he was an international free agent.

This will be a big deal. For a year and a half of Robert, the Cardinals will have to entertain giving up 2 of Jordan Walker, Hence, Scott II, and Thomas Saggese, along with probably 2 other prospects; it will be more if they get Fedde in a package. Deal. It would be easier to pull the trigger if Robert had a year or 2 of additional control.

Cardinals acquire OF/DH Brent Rooker (ESPN+; subscription required) – Rooker has 3 seasons of control and would be a great source of power; the downside is that 32% strikeout rate and he’s already 29. His 155 OPS+ would be second to only Willson Contreras on the current roster. He also hits well with runner in scoring position and can hit lefties pretty well. Unfortunately he doesn’t fill a positional need; he’s primarily a DH and would cut into at bats for Contreras, Alec Burleson, and Nolan Gorman.

The A’s would take some young players in return for him; he won’t require a package like they got for Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, or Sean Murphy (although those have panned out very well). They’d want a Koperniak or Cesar Prieto type player back; someone with some MLB potential that is blocked by the Cardinals roster.

Redbird Rants lists 7 players the Cardinals could turn to:

  • Rooker (see above)
  • Bryan De La Cruz, OF – De La Cruz is a corner outfielder who has played some center in the past; unfortunately, he’s a subpar fielder in center. Add in he’s been a below average hitter the last season and a half (89 OPS+ in 2023 and 91 this season), he’s not an upgrade over Michael Siani and/or Dylan Carlson. The plus side would be his hitting against lefties, so a platoon could work; the Cardinals don’t have the roster flexibility to pull it off.
  • Randal Grichuk, OF – See the explanation of De La Cruz, except he’s been an above average hitter. Grichuk has been used in a platoon this season and hit well against lefties. The downside is he’s not playing center at all and has been below average in the last few years at the position. He’s also a free agent after the season, so the cost would be less than De La Cruz.
  • Tommy Pham, OF – The list is getting better, but I don’t see this one happening. Pham left on bad terms and I don’t see him being happy about returning, nor do I see the front office being interested. Pham can play center, has been a decent hitter this season, and has crushed lefties. He’s also below average in in the field this year and has seen his power fall off.
  • Mark Canha, 1B/OF – Another platoon bat that hit’s lefties well. Like De La Cruz, he’s a below average hitter who can’t play center; in fact, he’s been bad at both 1B and corner OF this year. He’s low cost, but, again, he’d be hard to keep on the roster as a platoon player.
  • Connor Joe, 1B/OF – Of the in-division deals, this could be likely and I like it the most of their list; the Cardinals most recently acquired Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton from the Pirates in 2022. Joe is an upgrade, but he’d cost more due to his hitting and the fact he’s under team control for 3 more years. He doesn’t play center, so that’s a strike.
  • Kevin Pillar, OF – Pillar is a CF that has bounced around a little this year, but settled in with the Angels most recently. Again, he’s offensively limited and his defense is on the decline. He’s a free agent after the season and has already announced he’ll be retiring. He’s not much of an upgrade for the Cardinals.

I’m pretty much dismissing every name they threw out there. To bring in a platoon player, the Cardinals would need to shed one of Matt Carpenter or Brandon Crawford; to this point, the team is reluctant to do so even if both are black holes on offense. I’d be OK with Grichuk, Pham, or Joe if they displaced Marp or Crawford, but the team would still need help at centerfield.

I’ll be back later this week with more rumors.

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