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Open Thread - Trading for the next star

Do we have any idea who the next player will be?

MLB: New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I would love to have an actual article for today’s post, but I will confess something. I am exhausted. It was a very alcohol-heavy weekend. Back-to-back days of 30th birthday parties. I got maybe 10 hours combined sleep. I do not have the energy necessary to write a real post.

Thankfully, a comment on a recent VEB post crossed my mind when I was thinking something to put here:

The Cardinals always have a knack for going out to get players who I admired and never thought like oh hey I wish he was a cardinal. Which always makes it a pleasant surprise. I admired players like Rolen, Goldschmidt, Arenado. Even Holliday! And the Cardinals were definitely on the same page. Glad they have the wits to go out and make these big trades, etc. And I feel like another one is coming this season.

dr. howl v2.0 made that observation on a post about Scott Rolen. I am interpreting “never thought like oh hey I wish he was a Cardinal” as the possibility of it happening was low enough that it wasn’t even on his radar that it might happen. Either that, or the never isn’t supposed to be there. Either way, the basic idea is desirable, established and likable star player that was sort of hard to imagine the Cards getting (even though the Arenado rumors were constant prior to the actual trade, his contract certainly made that hard to imagine).

That was followed by this comment:

It seems like they put more stock than most teams in what a guy’s character is when deciding who to commit to long-term. They had three Roberto Clemente award winners on last year’s roster alone

That’s from country stuff and it adds to the point that they all kind of have the same feel, if you will. Why do I bring all this up?

Well, if history is any indication, they will do it again. Goldy and Arenado are recent examples, but I think they truly tried to do this with Jason Heyward as well. He just didn’t end up signing long-term.

So.. who’s the next star who will join this group? Who are the Cardinals going to trade for who is unexpected, though not unrealistic. The obvious answer, I suppose, is Shohei Ohtani, but he does not feel realistic to me. The Cardinals traded for two months of Rolen (he later signed an extension), one year of Goldschmidt and Heyward, and the contract of Arenado after the worst season of his career. None of them had even close to the value of a 7.7 WAR player (his projection by Steamer!) who can hit and pitch.

So we have our criteria. From the outside, seems like the kind of Cardinal whose character is (seemingly) fantastic, who is a star player, and whose trade value is achievable? (Technically, Ohtani’s is achievable I suppose though feels like Jordan Walker would have to be included. Perhaps more importantly, he does not feel like someone who is going to sign an extension and there is no way the Cardinals are the top bidder in free agency.)

I think, even though every example has been a hitter, it would make the most sense for the answer to be a pitcher. You have your criteria. Who is the next in the line?