Buyers at the Deadline - What will it cost us?

The non-waiver trade deadline is just 20 days away - July 31st. At this point, the St. Louis Cardinals obviously will be buyers at the deadline. The Cardinals have been buyers at the deadline for years. The Cards record sits at 6 games over .500 and they are just 2.5 back of the NL Central leading Pittsburgh Pirates and just 1.5 back of the second place Cincinnati Reds. They are 5.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. Going by Pythag W/L, the Cardinals would lead the NL Central by 2.5 games over the Reds and 3.5 games over the Pirates and 7.5 games over the Brewers. The Cardinals would be 14 games over .500 in that scenario. Like the Royals, the team has been ravaged by injuries. The Cards are currently down two starting pitchers (Carpenter and Garcia), but hope to get Garcia back by mid-August. Starting first baseman Lance Berkman has stated he could be back by Friday's first game after the All-Star break. It looks as though he will be headed to a minor-league rehab start instead, so he'll be back in late July. As is the running internet meme on VEB, "it'd be like trading for two players without giving anything up!" That being said, I still believe that at least one move will be made to solidify the team for the final 1/2-1/3 of the season and (hopefully) the playoffs. I just hope that they do not go overboard and give away any of the top 5-6 prospects on the team, namely: Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Kolten Wong, Tyrell Jenkins, and Trevor Rosenthal.

There have been plenty of rumors surrounding players the Cardinals would like to go after - namely pitchers Zack Greinke, Bartolo Colon, Joe Saunders (before his injury), Huston Street, Brian Fuentes, and Brett Myers are but a few. My quest today is to try to figure out what it would take to get a player of each of these calibers. Zack Greinke is obviously the best of the bunch here. Fangraphs recently looked at what it would take to "rent" Greinke for the remainder of the year (as he is a pending free agent.) I wanted to mathematically check it out, though. Giving 1 point for a non-rated prospect, 2 points for a C- or lower prospect, 3 points for a C prospect...all the way up to 10 points for an A+ prospect, I took a look at what was given up for the similar pitchers listed in the Fangraphs article.

  • When Cleveland traded CC Sabathia to the Brewers in 2008, the Indians received 18 points via 4 prospects.
  • When Cleveland traded Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to the Phillies in 2009, the Indians received 19 points via 4 prospects. Lee was not as good as Sabathia at the time, but he was signed through the following season - likely balancing out the two factors.
  • When Seattle traded Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe (and $2.25M) to the Rangers in 2010, it was a straight "rental" like Sabathia in 2008. The Mariners received 14 points via 4 prospects.
  • When Colorado traded Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians in 2011, the Indians received 21 points via 4 prospects. Jimenez was likely the worst of the 4 pitchers, but was signed for 3.5 more seasons at less than $6M per year on average. That added a ton to his value.

On average, that is 18 points for 1.5 seasons of top notch starting pitching. When looking at this, we must also keep in mind that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will not allow for the receiving team (the Cardinals in this case) to garner prospects were Greinke (or any other formerly Type A or Type B free agent) to leave after the season - thus lowering the value of a trade. For Greinke, the Cardinals would likely have to give up 4 prospects at approximately 15-17 points, most liklely depending on how they are distributed. If I'm trying to make a deal without the players listed above (or any major leaguers), here is what I am staring at:

  1. Zack Cox - B (6 points)
  2. Jordan Swagerty - B (6 points)
  3. Matt Adams - B (6 points)
  4. John Gast - B- (5 points)
  5. Ryan Jackson - C+ (4 points)
  6. Charlie Tilson - C+ (4 points)
  7. Brandon Dickson - C+ (4 points)
  8. Tommy Pham (if healthy?) - C+ (4 points)

That could look like this, which would be my initial offer, RHP Brandon Dickson, OF Charlie Tilson, RHP Jordan Swagerty, and SS Greg Garcia. That's 15 points, on the low end of what I predict it would take. When they counter with either Cox or Adams, I build the trade around one of them, looking like this:IF Cox/Adams (1), RHP Swagerty, OF Charlie Tilson, and SS Greg Garcia. That's 17 points, on the high end on what I predict it would take. I truly believe that the Brewers would still scoff at this idea and no trade would be made. I do not think I would go with more than that, but I could possibly be convinced to do IF Cox/Adams, RHP Swagerty, LHP John Gast, and SS Greg Garcia (or any other SS in the system lower than AA ball - if they like one of those better). That's 18 points, and absolutely as high as I would go - and here's the caveat - without a trade and sign in place.

If Greinke were to command that many "points", then I would assume a rental of 39-year old starting pitcher Bartolo Colon from the Oakland Athletics would likely be MUCH less.

  • In 2011, Jason Marquis went from the Nationals to the D'Backs for Zach Walters. This trade brought the Nationals 1-2 points.
  • In 2010, Dontrelle Willis went from the Tigers to the D'Backs for Billy Buckner (no, not that Bill Buckner). This trade brought the Tigers back 2-3 points, but the Tigers ate nearly the entirety of Willis' contract.
  • In 2009, Jarrod Washburn went from the Mariners to the Tigers for Lucas French and Mauricio Robles. This trade brought the Mariners 2-4 points.
  • In 2008, Randy Wolf went from the Padres to the Astros for Chad Reineke. This trade brought the Padres 1-2 points.

It is likely that the Cardinals would only have to give up 1-3 points for this trade. Whomever the Athletics and Cardinals can agree upon as a C- (approximately) prospect that the Cardinals won't mind giving up and the A's would like to have should get this deal done. I'd give up someone who is performing quite well, but are very old for the level of ball at which they play - maybe 3B Alan Ahmady at Palm Beach?

Brian Fuentes has been released. I would not be surprised to see the Cardinals take a flyer on him, but I would rather not at this point of his career.

Brett Myers and Huston Street are in the same boat. Both are experienced closers who make too much money. Both have potential options for next year and Street is a little cheaper this year and next - and is younger. Add a point onto Street's asking price. These top flight closers should garner more than Bartolo Colon was found to bring in for his former organization.

The trade market has exploded. I'm guessing that the Astros/Padres would want approximately what the Padres got last year for Mike Adams. However, Adams is much better than Myers and better than Street. For Myers, I would guess the haul would be around 5-7 points. That would equivilate to a Brandon Dickson + a random no-name. Street would probably get 8-9 points in a trade. That would look more like a John Gast and a Brandon Dickson.

Thanks for reading...don't crush me. :)

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