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Looking back at the three worst trades in the last decade for the Cardinals

Detroit Tigers v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

While it isn’t always these case, it is important to remember there are plenty of trades that simply don’t work out. With the trade deadline about a month away, it might be a good time review some of these cautionary tales. Then we can keep some of these in mind as we look over some trade successes next week.

Trade #1

St. Louis Cardinals acquire LHP Matthew Liberatore, C Edgardo Rodriguez and 2020 supplemental 2nd round pick

Tampa Bay Rays acquire OF Randy Arozerana, OF/1B Jose Martinez and 2020 supplemental 1st round pick

At the time of this trade, the main focus on it was then top prospect Matthew Liberatore, Jose Martinez and the swap of picks. Since then it has quickly become known as the Randy Arozerana trade just before he burst onto the scene for Rays in 2020 and become one of the game's premier outfielders. He has a career WAR of 10.7, won the Rookie of the Year in 2021 and has a lifetime postseason OPS of 1.121 across 8 series. Martinez was largely a nothing player for the Rays as he played just 24 games for them amassing a 0.2 WAR before being traded to the Chicago Cubs for a PTBNL. The supplemental first round pick ended up being Alinka Williams who the Rays have since traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Matthew Liberatore, the key piece of this trade for the Cards has struggled in the big leagues so far. In 16 career games, 13 starts, he has a 5.81 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. Of course, it’s still early, but while he has a lifetime ERA of 4.35 in 48 AAA starts across three seasons, his strikeout rate each season has improved. While Liberatore is still a question mark, on a positive note (and likely the only one of this article ) this trade in a less direct way has produced an exciting prospect for the Cardinals. The second round pick they acquired from the Rays turned into Tink Hence, the 66th best prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline. This season with Perioa Hence has struck out nearly 30 percent of batters while walking just over 7 percent and has an ERA of 2.81. If Cards are ever to save any face with this trade it will rely on the right arm of the young pitcher.

Trade #2

St. Louis Cardinals acquire cash considerations

Texas Rangers acquire Adolis Garcia

In terms of what they lost this is might be the least consequential for the big league team from the Cardinals side, however unlike the other two trades, they did not receive big league players in return. While St. Louis did get money back in the deal, no matter the sum, it’s an ugly trade. Since the start of the 2021 season, he has totaled a WAR of 9.9, has hit 75 homers, picked up 251 RBI’s and been named an All Star. The same cannot be said for the cash considerations the Cardinals acquired.

The oddest part of this trade though is the fact that the Cardinals just dumped him despite Garcia coming off of a solid 2019 season in AAA. He posted a triple slash line of .253/.301/.517 in addition to picking up 22 doubles and launching 32 homers. Yes, he was 26 at the time so his long-term future was cloudy but to only give him 21 games in the bigs, all of which came in 2018, is puzzling to say the least.

Trade #3

St. Louis Cardinals acquire Marcell Ozuna

Miami Marlins acquire Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, Magneuris Sierra and Daniel Castano

With the gift of hindsight this has the potential to go down as one of the worst trades in baseball history. At the time of acquiring him, Ozuna was coming off of back-to-back All Star games seasons, he had hit 60 homers over the prior two seasons, and he received MVP votes in his final season with the Marlins. So, there was at least some logic to it. Logic makes the move understandable, but unfortunately doesn’t change how everything actually played out.

The Red Birds traded the 2022 NL CY Young winner in Sandy Alcantara who has a career WAR of 17 with the Miami Marlins. In every season with the fish prior to this one he posted an ERA+ of 110 or better, meaning he was at least 10 percent better than the average starting pitcher in each of those seasons. Sure, he has struggled this year but no matter how bad he struggles this year and in potentially future years his five-year run of strong performances will haunt St. Louis. On top of Alcantara the Cardinals also traded a pitcher who is the odds-on favorite to win the 2023 NL CY Young in Zac Gallen, who is now pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his big-league career, he has a 3.04 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and an ever growing 15 WAR. The other two pieces in the deal, Castano and Sierra have combined for a 0.4 WAR so they didn’t lose much there but it doesn’t matter due to the first two players in the deal.

Those are three trades that haunt me. For one the outcomes is still in the air, another that is just plain weird, and a final one that just happened to bite the Cardinals more than it helped them. To always make perfect trades requires a level of foresight most humans just cannot possess — that is the risk of trades. The means there will likely be some regrettable ones. You just hope the team has more successful ones than not.

What has been your least-favorite trade by the Cardinals?