Trades Still to Be Made?

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The Cardinals are more or less set for 2014. Does that mean they are done?

The St. Louis Cardinals are basically set to open 2014 with a solid, well rounded starting staff, bullpen, 8 good starting position players, and a very nice bench. They've made some very good moves, trading for Grichuk and Bourjos, and signing Mark Ellis and Jhonny Peralta.

The Cardinals don't need to make any more moves. But there may be room for more maneuvers either this offseason or midseason.

The most obvious need on the team is some sort of shortstop prospect, probably one who is a year or two away from the majors. While we've signed Jhonny Peralta to a four-year deal, the club has essentially intimated that Peralta's name is only written in ink on the depth chart through 2015. It would be nice to acquire a shortstop prospect who could plausibly backup at shortstop in 2015, and start there by 2016.

The Peralta signing was nice, but it was a patch job at best. It may have been the best the club could do without giving away the farm, but the club can't rest.

The trade market for shortstop prospects remains tight, but shopping for prospects is slightly easier than shopping for MLB talent. One name that sort of qualifies is Hak-ju Lee, shortstop prospect from the Rays. An injury kept him off the field for most of 2013, but he looked very good in 57 PAs at the AAA level before succumbing to knee ligament injuries. He could probably use a full season at AAA and feature periodically at the major league level in 2015.

Lee has a good chance to recover from his ligament injuries. His injuries may keep his trade value down. The Rays have picked up Yunel Escobar's 2014 option, and have a further 2015 option. Tim Beckham is another long-term prospect, though he will miss much of 2014 with a similar knee ligament injury.

Another name to consider might be Rosell Herrera from the Rockies system. He's a bit further from the majors than the Cardinals might like, being probably more like three years away from the majors. But it's hard to believe that a team with a long, expensive contract to Troy Tulowitzski plans on starting Herrera at shortstop. Herrera could be used at another spot, or used to backup the physically limited Tulowitzski. But Colorado could definitely use some starting pitching.

The Cardinals are probably not likely to be in the running for top-notch shortstop prospects, but they could definitely bulk up their mid- and high-minors depth.

The good news is that the Cardinals have now (or will have by midseason) quite a number of decent trade chits. Absent an injury, Jon Jay's tenure with the Cardinals is limited. If Jaime Garcia shows up healthy, Lance Lynn could be a very valuable trade asset; Joe Kelly could also be a great option.

The Cardinals can swing a reasonable deal for the next shortstop without gutting the farm. They don't have to do it now; it may be easier at the trade deadline. But trust that the front office has its ears to the ground for the next big move.

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