The St. Louis Cardinals organization is in a perilous spot. As of June 26th, they sit 13 games under .500, 11 games back of the wild card and 8.5 in the NL Central. Yes, they’re within striking distance of the division with about half of the season left, but they’re in last meaning they have to jump four teams and they’ve shown zero capabilities of turning this around. As a result, as we are nearly a month away from the deadline, it’s time to discuss the Cards blowing this thing up and trading some of their veterans including Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy’s position and age make it difficult to judge his actual value, but he’s far and away the player who would return the most for a Cards team that is in need of a reset. So, what could a return for the reigning NL MVP look like and who could trade for him?
*Stats as of June 26th
Tampa Bay Rays acquire Paul Goldschmidt
St. Louis Cardinals acquire 1B Kyle Manzardo
If the Cardinals are to trade Goldy, I think the Rays will be at the front of the line to acquire his services. Yes, they currently have Yandy Diaz at first who has been one of the best hitters in the AL, but he can play third in a pinch, and they have a rotating DH spot so there is an opening there for both his bat and glove. Acquiring Goldschmidt would solidify a Rays offense that is already amongst one of the best in baseball.
The Cardinals only return one player in this trade, but I am a firm believer in acquiring quality over quantity when trading top tier players. If St. Louis is trading Goldschmidt to the Rays, I would expect them to aggressively target 2021 1st round pick Carson Williams who is currently the 27th best prospect in baseball on MLBPipeline. It would be surprising to see the Rays give him up though so Manzardo would likely become the target. He is struggling currently at the AAA level, but the talent is there as he has a plus hitting tool with budding power. Manzardo’s ceiling is tied to his bat which always does give some trepidation when evaluating prospects, but the bat is good enough to carry him as a player and make him a key piece of the Cardinals lineup for years to come.
Minnesota Twins acquire Paul Goldschmidt
St. Louis Cardinals acquire OF Emmanuel Rodriguez and OF Yasser Mercedes
The Minnesota Twins are in a weird spot as they sit with just a 40-39 record as they enter play Monday night. However, they are still 2 games up on the Cleveland Guardians for first place in the AL Central. They have a shrinking window with Sonny Gray, one of the team's best players set to become a free agent this window. As a result, they might try and go all in this summer with the AL as open as it ever will be. Their struggles come down to an offensive unit which is 20th in baseball scoring just 4.3 runs per game which combined with their shrinking window might make them desperate for an impact bat.
Yes, St. Louis is deep in outfielders right now, but Tyler O’Neill is a pending free agent, Tommy Edman is a trade candidate and Jordan Walker does not look like an outfielder. Emmanuel Rodriguez is one of my favorite prospects in baseball and one who I think has an extremely high ceiling. He is not lighting up A+ ball this year hitting just .228 but he does have 10 home runs already in addition to 41 walks. The prospect ranking is not there as he sits at 64th in minor league baseball, but he only has played in 131 career games. Had he not torn his meniscus in June of last season I think he would be in the top 40. In addition to Rodriguez, the Cards also get a true lottery ticket prospect in Mercedes who is just 18 but has a relatively high ceiling power and size.
Baltimore Orioles acquire Paul Goldschmidt
St. Louis Cardinals acquire Heston Kjerstad
The O’s are finally in a spot where their years of tanking have paid off. They have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but they also have a .618 winning percentage which is the third best (as of June 26th) in baseball. Offense hasn’t exactly been a problem for them as they are averaging 4.87 runs per game, but first base has been a problem. Ryan O’Hearn is hitting .317 but he has cooled off of late and does not offer much of a track record and Ryan Mountcastle, who is currently out with vertigo, has struggled defensively and at the dish this season. Goldy is the exact type of veteran addition that young teams like the Orioles love to acquire at the deadline because of the voice and leadership he could provide for the stretch run and postseason.
Like the first trade, the Cards target a single prospect with a higher ceiling opting for quality over quantity. Kjerstad is an odd prospect because despite being 24-year-old already and being drafted in 2020, he has just 128 career professional games to his record, but he is already playing in AAA. There is some swing and miss concern to his game and he does have 48 strikeouts through 63 games this season with 17 of those punchouts coming in 17 AAA games. But he has the potential to become an impact bat with an ability to hit for average and power in the MLB. Amongst the three prospects on this list, he is my least favorite, but I do think he is a player that the Cards can realistically get from the Orioles in a Goldy trade.