On Tuesday, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports joined the Edmonds and McKernan Show on CBS 920 in St. Louis. McKernan tweeted the enticing allusions Passan made during the interview:
From @JeffPassan on trade deadline: I've heard a big name associated w/ the Cardinals. If I had verification, I would report it.— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) July 15, 2014
More from @JeffPassan on Cardinal trade deadline: For those worried that the Cardinals are standing pat, this name would indicate otherwise.— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) July 15, 2014
That Passan is such a tease. It might be nothing. But it might be something..."big." Perhaps even blockbuster in size. So who might the Cardinals possibly be targeted as an acquisition with the trade deadline fast approaching?
First, let's look at the team's who have the potential to unload an important player. These are the teams that are out of postseason contention for all intents and purposes. Here are the teams that currently 5.0 games or more out of their league's respective Wild Card race:
- Chicago White Sox, 6.5 GB
- Minnesota Twins, 6.5 GB
- New York Mets, 7.0 GB
- Miami Marlins, 7.5 GB
- Tampa Rays, 8.0 GB
- Boston Red Sox, 8.0 GB
- Philadelphia Phillies, 10.0 GB
- San Diego Padres, 11.0 GB
- Chicago Cubs, 11.5 GB
- Houston Astros, 11.5 GB
- Colorado Rockies, 12.0 GB
- Arizona Diamondbacks, 12.5 GB
- Texas Rangers, 13.0 GB
It seems like this is the pool of sellers this trade season—at least, sellers who would be willing to trade away a "big" piece. Which teams can we eliminate as not having a the type of player might be sent to the Cards in a blockbuster? It seems to me that the Astros, Cubs, White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Twins don't have any players that match up with the Cardinals' needs and that might be moved.
- Yes, Joe Mauer or Jose Abreu would certainly constitute a major acquisition for St. Louis, but both play a position of strength for the Redbirds (first base). What's more, Mauer is injured and there is no way the White Sox would trade the American League home run leader, who they inked to what appears to be a very team-friendly contract last offseason. So neither team appears to line up with the Cardinals for a big trade.
- The Diamondbacks are horrendous and don't have a player that would be considered a big acquisition. Paul Goldschmidt isn't walking out of the Cardinals clubhouse wearing the birds on the bat unless Tony La Russa is a one-man sleeper cell taking orders from John Mozeliak. Arizona will likely try to dump some of its veteran players. But, as fourstick broke down here, trading for Martin Prado would be nothing more than a "minor move" (regardless of how much Prado is owed on the remainder of his contract).
- The Cubs and Astros are trending young and so they don't have many veterans that would be a hugely beneficial addition to the Cardinals.
Potential big acquisitions that VEB has already analyzed:
2014, $16MM; 2015-2020, $114MM; 2021, $15MM club option ($4MM buyout)
This would be the most blockbusting trade the Cardinals could make this side of Giancarlo Stanton, and not just because they'd be committing to paying Tulowitzki a guaranteed $118 million (including the 2021 club option buyout) through his age 35 season. Tulo is currently batting .345/.435/.613/1.048. Every one of those stats leads the league. The Rockies shortstop just might be the best player in baseball right now.
An addition of Tulowitzki would require the Cardinals to reshuffle their infield. Presumably, Kolten Wong would be the odd man out (perhaps even sent to the Rockies) with Jhonny Peralta shifting from short to third and Matt Carpenter moving back across the diamond to second base.
The Cardinals reportedly called the Rockies about Tulo last Hot Stove, but found the price in young players too high. With Tulowitzki proving himself healthy and then some during the season's first half, his price likely hasn't dropped.
2014, $20MM; 2015-2020, $107MM
A buy-low addition, Wright is another player whose acquisition would force an infield realignment. Last season, Wright posted a .307/.390/.514 line that was slightly better than his career slash. This season, the 31-year-old's batting line has sagged to .285/.344/.421. It seems unlikely that the Mets would ship out their franchise cornerstone so soon after making him a Met for life. Equally unlikely would be Mozeliak shipping out a handful of prospects and young MLB players in exchange for the aging and nearly over-the-hill New York third-sacker.
2014, $22.5MM; 2015-2018, $90MM; 2019, $20MM club option ($6MM buyout)
The Cardinals's pitching depth has evaporated due to injury. The club needs pitching. Michael Wacha might not pitch again in 2014 and, if he does, it likely won't be until the calendar has turned to September. Shelby Miller has pitched poorly all season. Enter the Phillies. They've played poorly and have a roster full of pricy veterans. One of those is southpaw Cole Hamels, who has thrown over 200 innings for four consecutive seasons (though he will be hard pressed to hit that plateau in 2014). His walks are up a tick this season, but his line is nonetheless very good: 2.93 ERA, 3.28 FIP, and 3.33 xFIP. Adding Hamels would give the Cards a potent one-two punch at the top of the rotation and provide the club with a needed innings muncher.