As the July 31st trade deadline the Cardinals continue to be named as a team interested in players such as Jake Peavy of the White Sox and Erwin Santana of the Royal. Recently, Phillies’ General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. seemed to soften his stance on Cliff Lee, saying he owed it to his team’s future to at listen to offers. In a St. Louis Post Dispatch article published yesterday, General Manager John Mozeliak said that he is open to pursue paths to improve the ball club, but unwilling to sacrifice too much in what appears to be a sellers market this year. Reported rumors have the Cardinals interested in acquiring a shortstop and/or a starting pitcher. With Mozeliak’s stance in mind, here is an overview of the St. Louis Cardinals potential trade chips.
The Untouchables (or at least nearly so)
These are players that would be seemingly impossible to get unless the Cardinals were involved in talks for superstar they could control for multiple years, i.e. Giancarlo Stanton. Even then, trading these potential stars would have to give GM John Mozeliak second, third, and fourth thoughts.
Shelby Miller – Good stuff and proven himself at the big league level. You do not trade those players in their first year.
Trevor Rosenthal – Jason Motte’s recovery is not a sure thing and Edward Mujica will likely leave via free agency making Rosenthal an indispensable potential closer in 2014.
Oscar Taveras – Yes, he is hurt, but GM John Mozeliak has said Taveras is the best hitter in the organization since Albert Pujols. Imagine the outrage if the Cardinals had traded Albert Pujols the year before he reached the major leagues.
Michael Wacha – Has zipped through the system and seems destined to be a number three starter at worst, and a number two at best at minimum salary for the team. Why trade that unless you knew you were getting an ace in return for multiple years (calling Cliff Lee).
Carlos Martinez – Does not have the floor of Wacha, but has better stuff and higher ceiling. If Baby Pedro figures it out with another team Mozeliak could regret it for a decade or longer. Has to be something really special in return for him (calling Cliff Lee again).
The Hard to Touch
These players are not completely off limits like the players above, but it would likely take an impact player to move these players such as a Jake Peavy at minimum, and a Cliff Lee at best.
Matt Adams – He can clearly hit and he has proven this year that he does not have to start every day to make an impact. Adams playing time will also likely increase next year with game of musical chairs created by the departure of Carlos Beltran. It would only make sense to part with Adams for a special player who the team knew would make a big impact over multiple years.
Kolten Wong – Would be untouchable if not for the emergence of Matt Carpenter. Still, it is easy to figure out how Wong gets playing time next year if the Cardinals trade or let David Freese depart via free agency. Wong has done nothing but hit and provide better than expected defense at second in the minors.
Kevin Siegrist – The Cardinals have clearly found something special in the left-hander who throws in the mid-90’s. Why trade a commodity the team has been looking for since the days of Steve Kline.
These are players who have value and therefore would take something sizeable in return to trade. However, these players may not require a star-like acquisition as the players above would.
Tyler Lyons – Lyons burst on to the scene with a few really good starts with Cardinals. Then he quickly was sent down after some really bad starts. Now Lyons has seemingly recovered at AAA, and he seems destined to be an MLB starter. However, Lyons is not the prospect that Wacha and Martinez are, and the club could afford to trade him given their depth.
Michael Blazek – Blazek is hard throwing right-handed reliever whose ceiling is as a late-inning reliever. He has value, but the Cardinals already have a ton of arms like his in Rosenthal, Kelly, Martinez, etc. Blazek will struggle to crack the bullpen over the next few years, and as such is a tradeable commodity.
Stephen Piscotty – Piscotty has impressed and advanced to AA just a year after being drafted in the first round by the Cardinals. The problem for Piscotty is he plays third base and right field, two positions that will be manned by some combination of David Freese, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, and Oscar Taveras over the next four years.
Tyrell Jenkins – Jenkins has enormous potential, but has not cashed in on it over his first three years and is still in A ball at the age of 21. Given the depth of starting pitching in the organization, Jenkins appears as an attractive trade chip that could be had by another club.
Carson Kelly – Kelly was drafted out of the first round last year and given a big bonus based on his potential to hit for power with good defense. Kelly has shown some promise early on, but he is at minimum two years away from the big leagues, more likely four, and he plays at positions (first base and third base) where the club has a lot of depth.
Joe Kelly – Kelly lacks the quality secondary pitches of Wacha and Martinez, which means at best he is a four or five starter. Given that lower ceiling, it would make sense that Mozeliak would be willing to part with Kelly for the right package.
Seth Maness – Maness has endeared himself to fans as a double-play machine with a tremendous sinker. Still, Maness does not have a high ceiling and it is hard to see him as part of the rotation in the future given players like Wacha are ahead of him. Another team could use Maness as a number four or five starter, and those players have value.
James Ramsey – Ramsey was a controversial draft pick in 2012 as many saw him as having limited potential for a first rounder. Since then Ramsey has hit with surprising power and now sits at AA as the team’s best centerfield prospect not named Oscar Taveras. Still, there is Oscar Taveras, and Jon Jay, and Shane Robinson to play center in the future, which makes Ramsey a potential trade chip.
The Infinitely Touchable
These are players who are not only tradeable, but also a player the team would be glad to include in a package because they are either (1) not working out with the Cardinals currently; and/or (2) at a position where the organization already has a lot of depth; and/or (3) they are not very good.
Marc Rzepczynski – Scrabble was a key part of the 2011 World Series team, but since that time he has struggled at his primary job, getting lefties out, and reportedly has not been open to coaching. Those ingredients make him infinitely touchable.
Ryan Jackson – Jackson has hit well and reports on his defense were good at shortstop. Despite this fact, the team seems disinclined to call him up despite the offensive woes of Pete Kozma. I personally like Jackson and believe he should get a chance, but if the Cardinals management clearly does not feel the same. If Jackson is not given an opportunity with the Cardinals they should trade him to another club that will.
Any Other Minor Player Not Named In the List Above – If the Cardinals are in the middle of negotiating over Jake Peavy or Cliff Lee and player like Lee Stoppelman (AA reliever performing very well in his first year) is the final cherry-on-top desired by another club the Cardinals would almost certainly concede.