The St. Louis Cardinals organization is in an odd spot. Seeing as they enter Tuesday’s action 27-40, it’s difficult to envision the team trading prospects to improve the Major League roster. However, whenever a team has the likes of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, they have to maximize those seasons as neither of the superstars are getting any younger and since no team in the NL seems be able to run away with a lead, even with their 27-41 record, the Cardinals only find themselves 8.5 games out with a lot of games left to play. In situations like this teams might try to reconfigure their MLB roster by trading off it to acquire other MLB talent which I expect the Cards to do, especially seeing as they have a log jam at a few different positions.
Cardinals acquire - Edward Cabrera
Miami Marlins acquire - Tommy Edman and Joshua Baez
I think these two teams link up perfectly for a trade. Miami has too much pitching but still needs hitting and St. Louis has a logjam of hitters but lacks true pitching depth. Last year we saw the Cards trade their starting center fielder when healthy in Harrison Bader for a controllable starter in then Yankee Jordan Montgomery, and this is something we might see happen again by moving Edman.
Edward Cabrera is the exact arm that just about every team in the league is looking for which might make this trade a bit difficult and is the reason I included Joshua Baez. I know the peripheral stats including his BB rate of 14 percent and his ERA of 4.29 don’t look amazing for Cabrera but the talent is tantalizing. His whiff rate of 31.7 percent is in the 91st percentile and his strikeout rate is 29.4 percent which sits at the 84th percentile. He has two plus pitches in his four seamer and changeup and there is a lot of intrigue in his curveball which has a whiff rate of 42.2 percent.
With where the Marlins are in the standings, I expect them to be aggressive in acquiring another bat or two and they will likely have to give up an MLB pitcher to do so. If a bidding war were to ensue, I could see this costing more than Edman and Baez, but as things presently stand, I expect this to be about what Cabrera would cost.
Cardinals acquire - Tanner Houck
Boston Red Sox acquire - Dylan Carlson
Like the Cabrera trade, the Cardinals are trading from a position of strength for a starting pitcher. I think the Red Sox will be a little bit more desperate for a trade of this shape than the Marlins. I understand they have Jarren Duran who’s looked good, but they aren’t very organizationally deep in the outfield. Alex Verdugo only has one year of control remaining after this season and Adam Duvall is a trade candidate for this summer after signing a one-year deal in the offseason. They do have the AL ROY favorite in the outfield as well with Masataka Yoshida, but the defensive metrics indicate he is more DH than outfielder. Acquiring Carlson not only gives them a switch hitter, but it also gives them a third plus defensive outfielder which is needed for an outfield as tricky as Fenway Park.
Houck, like Carlson and Cabrera, is still a pre-arbitration player meaning he will give the Cardinals a cost-controlled pitcher for years to come. Now there is some risk in this as Houck does have a delivery that puts increased stress on the arm and might end up in the bullpen down the road which keeps the price of this deal lower. However, I think it’s a gamble St. Louis has to take. Last season was the highest his xERA has been in a year at 3.86, 0.01 higher than this year’s mark and he had a strong sinker-slider mix that misses bats and causes chases. Houck already throws those two pitches nearly 60 percent of the time, but I believe if the Cards were to acquire him and get that usage rate closer to 70 percent, they could be acquiring at worst a 2B starter on a World Series caliber team.
Cardinals acquire - Michael Kopech
Chicago White Sox acquire - Alec Burleson
This trade is a bit of a dart throw, but one I really like for both sides. The White Sox are headed for at least a multiyear retooling of the roster which will likely include the trades of two or more bats on the MLB roster. As a result, it has to be assumed they’re going to want to bring back some Major League ready bats to help speed up the transition of the roster. They get that with Alec Burleson who is in his first full year in the bigs and looks like he will at worst be a slightly above average hitter.
I understand the Cards are giving up a player who looks to be a long-term piece in Burleson, but at least let me explain my reasoning on this one. The stuff is there for Kopech, it always has been, and it always will be. I get the 4.82 xERA, 47.3 percent in zone rate and 10.7 BB percentage are not pretty, but his arsenal offers so much potential. His four-seam spin rate sits in the 95th percentile and his velo of 95.7 MPH is the second highest it’s been in his MLB career. His slider gets chased nearly 30 percent of the time and his changeup which plays well off of his fastball has a whiff rate of 33.3 percent this season. I think a slight change in his approach and change of scenery can result in Kopech reaching his ceiling.