St. Louis Cardinals Trade Rumors: Redbirds prioritizing offense as deadline approaches

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

'Tis the silly season.

Over the past couple of days, smoke billowed from Ye Olde Rumour Mill: the St. Louis Cardinals had interest in acquiring Red Sox starter Jake Peavy and a trade might come together quickly. The trade gossip snowballed as followed:

1) On Monday, ESPN’s Gordon Edes tweeted that the Cardinals had sent scouts to Peavy’s last start.

2) On Tuesday morning, Peter Gammons echoed Edes’s tweet.

3) Later on Tuesday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted that the Cardinals were interested in Peavy and a deal could come together quickly.

4) FOX’s Jon Morosi confirmed the same.

5) FOX’s Ken Rosenthal then wrote in his online column that the Cardinals were interested in Peavy, but that any deal for the veteran righty would not include Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty unless the trade included other Red Sox. Rosenthal then speculated that St. Louis might send Allen Craig to Boston in exchange for three months’ worth of starts from a 33 year old who has lost some mph off his fastball.

6) Randal Grichuk was then not in the Memphis starting lineup.

7) Tommy Pham was in the Memphis starting lineup.

8) Allen Craig was not in the St. Louis starting lineup.

9) Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals were prioritizing an acquisition of offense at the present, and not adding, in Goold’s words, "a pitcher like Peavy." (The headline belies the exact wording of Goold’s reporting. As with all of Goold’s work, I advise reading the article in its entirety.)

Isn't the trade gossip season fun?

Per Goold’s reporting and tweeting, the Cardinals have explored acquiring a starting pitcher, but the price has been high. Mozeliak indicated that the discussions about a frontline starter have led the front office to conclude that the team would have to include one of their young hurlers in any package. So the team would be exchanging either (1) 3 1/2 years of Lance Lynn, (2) 4 1/2 years of Joe Kelly, (3) 4 1/2 years of Shelby Miller, (4) 5 1/2 years of Carlos Martinez, (6) six years of Stephen Piscotty, or (7) six years of Randal Grichuk for 1 1/2 years of, say, David Price or Cliff Lee. This tracks closely with the position the Cardinals took during the recent Hot Stove when exploring potential shortstop trades. The Cardinals value cost-controlled players—as well the organization should.

More from Goold’s Tuesday stltoday.com article:

The Cardinals have had an eye on the available pitchers for at least a month leading up to July and the trade deadline because they wanted to see if an upgrade for the rotation was possible, one that would create a trickle-down that also strengthened the bullpen. Their search has expanded to include starters who could also offer the team innings especially if the injuries persisted.

****

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, who by team policy does not discuss trade rumors or reports, said Monday that the team has not changed its view of the market or needs at the deadline based on news that Michael Wacha would miss at least another month. The Cardinals were already looking at starting pitchers, so the team's shopping has not changed.

Based on the organization placing valuing on young and cost-controlled pitching, the Cards have apparently taken a step back from adding a top-flight arm. Their search for an addition to the rotation has shifted to acquiring a cheap innings-eater a la Peavy—even if their current focus is on upgrading a lineup that has posted the worst Isolated Power (ISO) and second-lowest runs-per-game rate in the National League.

The Goold article does not so much refute the Peavy-to-Cardinals gossip that broke out this week as clarify the Cardinals’ priorities as the trade deadline approaches. The club’s first priority is to upgrade the offense. The Cards’ secondary priority (which, due to Jaime Garcia’s season-ending surgery and Michael Wacha’s open-ended shoulder problems, is presumably not far behind acquiring a bat) is to add on the relative cheap a starter who can soak up some innings. These priorities are not mutually exclusive. One can go to the grocery store looking for spumoni and come home with both spumoni and pizza rolls.

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