FanPost

"The Case for a Complete Rebuild" - A Lengthy Extrapolation

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A week ago Ben Markham wrote an excellent piece exploring the case for beginning a complete rebuild at this year’s trade deadline. By the end of his article, Markham had outlined the surplus value of the following possible trade pieces on the current roster (I added Piscotty to this table since his value was explored as well):

Trade Pieces

NP Surplus Value

Carlos Martinez

$100.00

Aledmys Diaz

$51.90

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Kolten Wong

$34.70

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Michael Wacha

$22.50

Stephen Piscotty

$18.80

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Total

$351.40

Markham also pointed out how much of this current value will evaporate even over the remainder of this season and the next, saying:

This collective, on average, has a third of their value tied up in the 2017 season, even by the time we reach the trade deadline, two months before the end of the regular season. More than 60% of their current value projects to evaporate in the next year and a half. If you decide to part with even a few of these guys, it’s tough to imagine the team being competitive. This might be a "Go big or go home" situation.

All of this good work has had me thinking for the past week about possible approaches to selling at the 2017 trade deadline. Between Markham’s work above, as well as his aggregate top 219 prospect list, there exists some groundwork from which it is possible to articulate some selling strategies with attention to parity and realism. Below, I’ve attempted to match up the Cardinals' tradable assets with some possible prospect returns from likely buyers at this year’s trade deadline. I’ll conclude with four possible scenarios for how a deadline sale could look.

Here are the ground rules I’ve set for myself:

  • The aggregate 219 prospect list will be used to determine prospect value.

  • The case for a complete rebuild will establish Cardinal player values.

  • Any prospect not on the top 219 I will consider to have a surplus value of $5 mil, because I am not a math all star.

  • Trades are only considered with teams likely to be buyers at the deadline.

  • NL central teams are excluded from trade consideration.

The goal in any scenario is to secure at least one high ceiling top 50 prospect, and to secure as much return value as possible. However, I’ve also disciplined myself, as much as possible, to constructing trades where the Cardinals get equal or slightly lesser total surplus value in return, because I’m assuming some of these players’ mediocre seasons may negatively affect their value to some degree. Finally, I biased my prospect selections toward good power tools, LHP’s with high grade fastballs, good speed tools, and and good fastball tools in general.

Trade Partners and Return Possibilities

Before playing out a few scenarios, let's take a brief tour of our tradable assets alongside several likely deadline buyers. I’ve excluded Carlos Martinez from trade consideration because that has no semblance of realism to it. I also did not construct any trades for Kolten Wong, because of his injuries. That leaves us with the following tradable players, for a total tradable surplus value of $194.2 million dollars:

Trade Pieces

NP Surplus Value

Aledmys Diaz

$51.90

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Michael Wacha

$22.50

Stephen Piscotty

$18.80

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Total

$216.70

Jedd Gyorko and the Boston Red Sox

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The Red Sox are actively seeking a player with power to slot into third base, where Pablo Sandoval has performed horribly this season when he hasn’t been injured. While the Red Sox might like to try to pry Josh Donaldson from the Blue Jays or Mike Moustakas from the Royals, but both teams are flirting with contention themselves, so they may not be available. Todd Frazier is also an option, but Jedd Gyorko is significantly better this year, and comes with more control. Additionally, Gyorko’s flexibility would allow him to be utilized around the diamond in the coming years depending on how Boston’s roster develops.Additionally, injuries and poor performance have created needs in the bullpen and back of the rotation in Boston - holes that Seung Hwan Oh and Lance Lynn could fill quite nicely. Here are two proposals:

Cardinals

Red Sox

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Rafael Devers

3B

$61.20

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Total:

$66.40

Total:

$61.20

This first proposal hearkens back to the Cardinals own Colby Rasmus trade a bit. Like it or not, Sandoval is signed through 2020, and Hanley Ramirez through 2019. Gyorko would come with control to 2020 as well. Trading Devers, who may be blocked for several more years, would allow the Red Sox to fill all their holes while preserving farm depth during a clear go-for-broke year. In return, the Cardinals would be the #12 prospect in baseball, who could very well become and impact middle of the order power bat - the kind of player this organization desperately needs and cannot draft. However, if the Red Sox are not inclined to part with their top prospect, consider this:

Cardinals

Red Sox

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Jay Groome

LHP

$27.40

Gerson Bautista (RHP)

Josh Ockimy (1B)

Bobby Dalbec (3B)

Total:

$41.10

Total:

$27.40

Jay Groome is Boston’s #2 prospect, and the #34 prospect in baseball, sporting a 97 mph fastball and a curveball considered the best of the 2016 draft. He doesn’t match up to Gyorko’s value alone, so I’ve suggested the inclusion of several other prospects in the 5-15 range of the Boston farm system. A trade like this would net the Cardinals a premier power left-hander to slot alongside Martinez, Reyes, and Alcantara as early as 2019.

Matt Carpenter and the New York Yankees

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I hate the Yankees, so I don’t particularly like the idea of both Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter helping them win games in the postseason. I do, however, love the 80 speed grade on their SS/2B prospect Jorge Mateo. The Yankees are looking for an offensive upgrade that can play either corner infield position, and Matt Carpenter presents a buy that comes with control, as well as the kind of leadership that will be valuable to their young core in the coming years. If they are aiming for glory this season, the Yankees could also stand to fortify their bullpen and a rotation that has had some injury issues of late. Here are a variety of trade options:

Cardinals

Yankees

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Clint Frazier

OF

$49.00

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Miguel Andujar

3B

$7.60

$57.10

$56.60

Probably not going to happen, but if the Yankees wanted to have a three headed monster of Chapman, Betances, and Rosenthal, the values match up.

Cardinals

Yankees

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Jorge Mateo

INF

$28.50

Michael Wacha

$22.50

Justus Sheffield

LHP

$18.20

$46.40

$46.70

Cardinals

Yankees

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Jorge Mateo

INF

$28.50

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Albert Abreu

RHP

$12.90

$39.70

$41.40

Cardinals

Yankees

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Jorge Mateo

INF

$28.50

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Miguel Andujar

3B

$7.60

$33.40

$36.10

The Yankees also have pitching needs, and Wacha comes with more long term control, which may be more desirable to the Yankees given they still view themselves as on the tail end of a rebuild. Alternatively, Oh would provide more stability in the bullpen, and Lynn is cheaper. In return the Cardinals get the closest thing to the next Billy Hamilton, either a left or right hander with a decent ceiling, or a decent 3B prospect

Cardinals

Yankees

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Jorge Mateo

INF

$28.50

Even on his own, Matt Carpenter matches up well enough to net Mateo.

Trevor Rosenthal, Stephen Piscotty, and the Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are the class of the National League and haven’t won a title since 1988. This is a team in the prime of its contending years that owes it to itself to acquire whatever pieces it needs to win it all. I won’t be surprised if the Dodgers land one of the top pitchers available at the trade deadline, but they also need a corner outfielder with power and a set up man to slot behind Kenly Jansen. Enter Trevor Rosenthal and Stephen Piscotty.

Cardinals

Dodgers

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Yadier Alvarez

RHP

$29.50

Stephen Piscotty

$18.80

Yusniel Diaz

OF

$15.40

Walker Buehler

RHP

$12.50

$52.00

$57.40

Piscotty would return to his home state of California to complete a Dodgers outfield alongside Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig, while Rosenthal fit well behind Jansen. In return, the Cardinals would get three top 100 prospects (#39, #79, and #91) - two pitchers with ample gas and solid repertoires and a solid outfield prospect. In this case, the Dodgers still retain Alex Verdugo to anchor another deal for a top starting arm elsewhere.

Cardinals

Dodgers

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Yadier Alvarez

RHP

$29.50

This goes to show that Rosenthal could return the most exciting arm of this package on his own. Alvarez peaks in the triple digits with a wipeout slider, adding another frightening arm to the already loaded Cardinals stable.

Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Hwan Oh, Lance Lynn, and the Washington Nationals

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With Harper likely departing in two years, it is win now time in the Capitol. It’s not secret that the Nationals’ bullpen has been a disaster this year; they could probably use two relievers, at least one a closer. The Cardinals can provide two with closing experience, as well as a fifth starter to solidify the rotation.

Cardinals

Nationals

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Victor Robles

OF

$62.00

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Jesus Luzardo

LHP

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Tommy Pham?

$58.50

$62.00

Another Rasmus style deal, and this one’s a pipe dream, but boy would I be over the moon to snag Robles. The Nationals also have a gap in center field with Adam Eaton on the 60 day DL, and for Robles, I’d include a hot Tommy Pham to boot. He probably doesn’t need introducing for most, but Robles is the #5 prospect in baseball with a plus hit tool, 70 grade speed, with plus defense and arm from center field. But I see the Nationals holding on to him if at all possible given the coming gap in their outfield in 2019.

Cardinals

Nationals

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Juan Soto

OF

$16.70

Carter Kieboom

SS/3B

$5.00

Jesus Luzardo

LHP

$5.00

$33.20

$26.70

Cardinals

Nationals

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Juan Soto

OF

$16.70

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Carter Kieboom

SS/3B

$5.00

Jesus Luzardo

LHP

$5.00

$25.30

$26.70

Either Rosenthal or a package of Oh and Lynn could bring back a nice return, headlined by Soto, a well rounded outfielder with above average power. Along with with Kieboom, a promising looking infielder, and Luzardo, a decently hard throwing lefty.

Aledmys Diaz and the Toronto Blue Jays

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The Jays are 4.5 games back from the AL wildcard right now. Would they be buyers at the deadline? Who knows. If they are, they need middle infield help that can play both 2B and SS, a need that Aledmys Diaz could fill.

Cardinals

Blue Jays

Aledmys Diaz

$51.90

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

OF

$40.00

According to the values this is underselling on Diaz somewhat, but this would be a sell low situation. Nonetheless, Guerrero Jr. has the kind of power the farm system currently lacks, with a plus hit tool as well. I’m not saying I’d bang down the doors on this, but I wouldn’t slam them either.

Some Trade Deadline Scenarios

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Now that we’ve taken a tour of the Cardinals trade assets in relation to the needs of some potential buyers, let’s extrapolate some possible approaches to selling. I have constructed all of these with the assumption that signing a premier free agent core piece or two during the 2018-2019 (Bryce Harper or Manny Machado) or 2019-2020 (Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Sale, and/or Madison Bumgarner) off seasons is at least an aspiration. However, the prospects gained in these various schemes would also provide varying banks of value from which to trade for core pieces as well. In these plans, I will not be attempting to account for how the Cardinals would configure their roster post sale, but that is certainly an interesting question worth exploring.

The Firesale: A Maximum Effort Sale (Contention by 2019-2020)

These first two trade groups take a look at what a complete sale of all or nearly all the of the Cardinals tradeable assets would look like. Such a course of action would definitely rule out contention this year as well as next year. With the wealth of prospects the Cardinals would have, it is conceivable that they could leverage their farm system to reformulate a premier contending team by 2019 between graduated prospects and trades. Additionally, as we saw with Jason Heyward, the appeal of a rising impact youth movement in an organization can be enticing to premier free agents. With that in mind, here are two ways to light off a fire sale.

Package Group 1.1

Trade #1

Cardinals

Red Sox

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Rafael Devers

3B

$61.20

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Total:

$66.40

Total:

$61.20

Trade #2

Cardinals

Yankees

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Jorge Mateo

INF

$28.50

Michael Wacha

$22.50

Justus Sheffield

LHP

$18.20

$46.40

$46.70

Trade #3

Cardinals

Dodgers

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Yadier Alvarez

RHP

$29.50

Stephen Piscotty

$18.80

Yusniel Diaz

OF

$15.40

Walker Buehler

RHP

$12.50

$52.00

$57.40

Trade #4

Cardinals

Blue Jays

Aledmys Diaz

$51.90

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

1B/OF

$40.00

Total Value

$216.70

$205.30

In this first scheme I made it a goal to sell everyone on our tradeable assets table. I think this table represents a best possible case scenario for selling in terms of impact prospect value. The Cardinals are netting seven top 100 prospects in this deadline plan - numbers 12, 26, 37, 39, 66, 79, and 91. They are acquiring two talented power hitting corner infielders in Devers and Guerrero, an exciting baserunning terror in Mateo, and an impressive infusion of high performance arms in Alvarez, Sheffield, and Buehler. If the Cardinals achieved this, they would own twelve top 100 prospects and have a total farm system surplus value of over $400 million.

Could such a perfect storm happen? It’s almost certainly impossible, the work Markham has done allows us to see just how much worth could possibly be harvested from real world contenders this trade deadline if things went perfectly. I would hazard to guess that if the Cardinals were able to land a player like Harper or Machado in the coming years, this group would be able to form a vicious pitching staff and a great supporting cast around them, whether that be through development or trade.

This alternative scheme is a bit more conservative. It assumes that no team is going to want to trade their top overall prospect, and it also assumes that the Cardinals are not interested in trading Stephen Piscotty and that other teams are not interested in trading for Michael Wacha’s injury risks.

Package Group 1.2

Trade #1

Cardinals

Red Sox

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Jay Groome

LHP

$27.40

Gerson Bautista

RHP

$5.00

Bobby Dalbec

3B

$5.00

Total:

$41.10

Total:

$37.40

Trade #2

Cardinals

Yankees

Matt Carpenter

$23.90

Jorge Mateo

INF

$28.50

Trade #3

Cardinals

Nationals

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Juan Soto

OF

$16.70

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Carter Kieboom

SS/3B

$5.00

Jesus Luzardo

LHP

$5.00

$25.30

$26.70

Trade #4

Cardinals

Dodgers

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Yadier Alvarez

RHP

$29.50

Trade #5

Cardinals

Blue Jays

Aledmys Diaz

$51.90

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

1B/OF

$40.00

Total Value:

$175.40

$162.10

This group includes five top 100 prospects (#26, #34, #37, #39, and #92) and would land the Cardinals just under the Braves with over $360 million in prospect value. The group is headlined by Alvarez and Groome, who along with Reyes would form a three headed flamethrowing pitching monster at the top of the Cardinals farm. Soto (who also has decent power), Kieboom, and especially Mateo would be a shot of athleticism on the positional side. And if the Guerrero Jr. trade actually happened (and I acknowledge that it is a bit more of a long shot) the Cardinals would have a legitimate high ceiling power prospect. Even without that trade though, this would be a major haul, and the club would still retain a core with Martinez, Fowler, Piscotty, Wong, and maybe Diaz going forward. They would have the flexibility to both develop an amazing farm system with nine or ten top 100 prospects, as well as make higher profile trades to improve the team’s talent ceiling.

Do I see the Cardinals attempting to pull off a full scale fire sale? No. But do these breakdowns make me salivate over the possibility of trying? Yes. Yes they do.

The Controlled Burn: Seling in light of Manny Harper (Contention by 2018-2019)

These next schemes are more conservative still. They assume that the Cardinals are sellers while retaining a lineup core with Carpenter, Fowler, and Piscotty as the OBP engine. This approach would retain a core lineup that would be drastically improved by the reshuffling that a Harper or Machado would bring, while also selling high on some assets like Gyorko and Rosenthal toward the goal of truly jumping back into contention in 2019 - with a serious shot in the arm of new talent.

The first is more fanciful, so I included a Diaz trade that we’ve already discussed as unlikely. I just like dreaming of Victor Robles in center field, but I have serious doubts the Nationals would part with him. A high ceiling return on this trade deadline of Groome, Robles, and Guerrero Jr. would truly make me feel like a winner this season no matter what our record was.

Package Group 2.1

Trade #1

Cardinals

Red Sox

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Jay Groome

$27.40

Gerson Bautista (RHP)

$5.00

Bobby Dalbec (3B)

$5.00

Total:

$41.10

Total:

$37.40

Trade #2

Cardinals

Nationals

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Victor Robles

OF

$62.00

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Jesus Luzardo

LHP

$5.00

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Tommy Pham?

$58.50

$67.00

Trade #5

Cardinals

Blue Jays

Aledmys Diaz

$51.90

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

OF

$40.00

Total Value:

$151.50

$144.40

This second plan is the more realistic scenario however. All three of these teams are clearly in World Series or bust mode, and highly motivated to load up for a long post-season run. This trade plan secures Groome and Alvarez to form our aforementioned flamethrowing monster, and with the five quality supporting pieces to this haul, the Cardinals would have a top three valued farm system to trade from in the next two years:

Package Group 2.2

Trade #1

Cardinals

Red Sox

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Jay Groome

$27.40

Gerson Bautista (RHP)

$5.00

Bobby Dalbec (3B)

$5.00

Total:

$41.10

Total:

$37.40

Trade #2

Cardinals

Dodgers

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Yadier Alvarez

RHP

$29.50

Trade #3

Cardinals

Nationals

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Juan Soto

OF

$16.70

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Carter Kieboom

SS/3B

$5.00

Jesus Luzardo

LHP

$5.00

$25.30

$26.70

Total Value:

$99.60

$93.60

Oh, and here is punchy high ceiling trade deadline play: Devers and Alvarez. Just between the two of them, they make the Cardinals the third or fourth best farm system in the league.

Package Group 2.3

Trade #1

Cardinals

Red Sox

Jedd Gorkyo

$41.10

Rafael Devers

3B

$61.20

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Total:

$66.40

Total:

$61.20

Trade #2

Cardinals

Dodgers

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Yadier Alvarez

RHP

$29.50

Total Value:

$99.60

$90.70

Flash in the Pan: Investing Assets while Maintaining the Core (Contention 2017-2018)

Finally, what would it look like for the Cardinals to sell with an eye toward still contending next year, or even this year if the NL Central continues to lag? I am of the opinion that there is not a buying option out there that can make this team a winner in the postseason, and that if the Cardinals make it to the postseason, it will be because the Cubs lost it, not because they won it. Even if they did, I don’t see them making it out of the Division series. With that in mind, I want to cash in on this team’s assets that will be departing next year. This is what it could look like for the Cardinals to trade our three most obvious trade pieces: Rosenthal, Oh, and Lynn.

Package Group 3.1

Trade #1

Cardinals

Dodgers

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Yadier Alvarez

RHP

$29.50

Trade #2

Cardinals

Nationals

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Juan Soto

OF

$16.70

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Carter Kieboom

SS/3B

$5.00

Jesus Luzardo

LHP

$5.00

$25.30

$26.70

Total Value:

$58.50

$56.20

Even here, the Cardinals move up to a roughly $250 million dollar farm system, a top five system in baseball. Alvarez is the only top fifty prospect here, but this return nets a big arm, two well balanced position players with power, and a promising lefty with some fire to his fastball. If I thought that this team could stumble into the postseason on the strength of prospect promotions and better luck, maybe I wouldn’t trade Rosenthal, because he could still be the closer next season. In that case, the Cardinals would no longer be jolting the farm system per say, but trade #2 above would not be a bad return for two rental assets.

Oh, and a bonus. Would I trade all of our obviously tradeable assets that meet the Nationals needs for Victor Robles straight up? Why yes I would.

Package Group 3.2

Cardinals

Nationals

Trevor Rosenthal

$33.20

Victor Robles

OF

$62.00

Seung Hwan Oh

$15.80

Lance Lynn

$9.50

Tommy Pham?

$58.50

$62.00

Conclusion

If you made it this far, you must really like dreaming about trades and prospects. But for real, isn’t that the fun of baseball this time of year? Anyway, I want to thank Ben Markham one more time for compiling some awesome data that made these thought experiments possible. I hope this provided an enjoyable imagination of what the Cardinals could achieve if they committed to investing the surplus value they still have in this badly listing season.