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2017 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

A look at what the Cardinals will do in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.

St. Louis Cardinals, 44-47, 3rd in the NL Central

What moves have they made so far?

The Cardinals’ most infamous move this season has been the May 20 trade that sent Matt Adams to the Braves in exchange for Class A infielder Juan Yepez. Adams, who’d spent his entire professional career as a first baseman, struggled to find consistent playing time during the early part of the season because of Matt Carpenter’s conversion to first base, and he struggled to make basic plays when the Cardinals experimented with him in left field. He’s found new life as Atlanta’s first baseman, though, hitting .291/.335/.609 with 14 homers in 194 plate appearances while forcing Freddie Freeman to third base.

The Cardinals also released a pair of underperforming veterans, cutting ties with former All-Star reliever Jonathan Broxton on May 31, then releasing their Opening Day third baseman, Jhonny Peralta, on June 9. They claimed lefty swingman Sean Gilmartin off waivers from the Mets on June 11.

St. Louis made a pair of minor deals on July 2, trading international cap space to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor-league outfielder Lane Thomas and to the Red Sox for minor-league infielders Imeldo Diaz and Stanley Espinal.

Are they buyers or sellers?

The Cardinals’ deadline strategy is still very much a mystery. They’ve got a decent chunk of ground to make up if they want to overtake the Brewers in the NL Central, but the front office seems to be intent on trying to make a playoff push this season. Most of the recent buzz has suggested that the Cardinals will be cautious buyers, looking to find players who are under control beyond 2017 and thus could both aid a playoff push this season and boost the club’s chances of winning the division in the future. If they have an opportunity to move a player or two without drastically reducing their chances of competing for the division title this year, though, it certainly seems possible that the Cardinals will do so.

Who will they target?

The juiciest rumor surrounding the Cardinals this offseason—albeit one unlikely to amount to anything—has been a report from’s Jon Paul Morosi indicating that the Cardinals have interest in acquiring third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Blue Jays. Donaldson wouldn’t fit perfectly into the Cardinals’ plans, as he’d force Jedd Gyorko—who’s been one of the Cardinals’ best hitters and a fantastic defender this year—off of third base, while almost certainly also forcing them to move on from one of Gyorko, Matt Carpenter, or Kolten Wong.

But as one of the majors’ most impactful hitters—he’s slashed .286/.386/.548 with 87 homers in 1,612 plate appearances since joining the Blue Jays, and even as he’s slumped this season, he’s posted an .836 OPS—Donaldson is one of the few hitters that could solidify the middle of the Cardinals’ inconsistent lineup. With that said, the odds of him getting traded are very slim. MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal indicated Sunday that the Blue Jays plan to compete in 2018, which means there’s almost no chance of them moving Donaldson, their most valuable position player.

Another prominent player who has repeatedly been linked to the Cardinals is Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, with the most recent report coming over the weekend from SiriusXM’s Craig Mish. Stanton, who is perhaps the most imposing power hitter in the National League, would obviously add a dynamic new element to the Cardinals’ lineup. It’s up to president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and GM Michael Girsch to decide whether taking on the final 10 seasons of a 13-year contract worth $325 million is worth it.

They’ll have to consider whether Stanton’s inconsistent contact-hitting skills and the fact that he’s been injury-prone throughout his career make him too risky. They’ll also have to decide whether they’re willing to displace hot-hitting Tommy Pham and more or less give up on the idea of Randal Grichuk and upper-level prospects Harrison Bader, Jose Adolis Garcia, and Magneuris Sierra ever being starters, as Stephen Piscotty and Dexter Fowler are already signed to long-term deals and would combine with Stanton to form the Cardinals’ everyday starting outfield. Obviously, though, Stanton could completely change the Cardinals’ trajectory for the next few years and provide them with a long-term presence in the middle of the order.

The Cardinals have also been connected to the other two members of the Marlins’ outfield, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna is under club control through 2019 and Yelich through 2021, so both players would bring long-term stability to the Cardinals’ lineup. Because of his power, however, Ozuna would seem to be a better fit in St. Louis, as Yelich is more similar to Fowler and Piscotty. If the Cardinals were to make a push for either player, they’d likely have to give up quite a few intriguing prospects, but they’ve got plenty of those.’s Mark Feinsand suggested Monday that the Marlins would have interest in one of the Cardinals’ 2016 first-rounders, fast-moving right-hander Dakota Hudson.

It’d seem logical for the Cardinals to try to make a defensive upgrade at shortstop. Their Opening Day starter, Aledmys Diaz, was one of the worst shortstops in the league, as he had -9 defensive runs saved according to FanGraphs before being demoted to Triple-A on June 28. His replacement, converted third baseman Paul DeJong, has generally been solid in the field and has also posted an impressive .895 OPS, but his lack of experience at the position has been evident at times, perhaps motivating the Cardinals to pursue a more proven defender. With the Angels seemingly looking to make a late playoff push, it’s unlikely that the Cardinals will be able to pry Andrelton Simmons away from Los Angeles before the deadline, especially since he’s recovered his offensive value this season. But Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, who’s heading into his final year of arbitration this winter, could be an interesting target as the Tigers look to reduce payroll. With that said, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has indicated that the Cardinals’ front office wants to see if DeJong can provide a long-term answer at short.

Finally, the Cardinals could look for reinforcements in the bullpen since they’re currently without an established closer. Seung-Hwan Oh, Trevor Rosenthal, and Brett Cecil have all struggled in the ninth inning, and if the Cardinals could bring in a controllable reliever like Brad Brach or Justin Wilson, they’d probably jump at the chance to do so.

If the Cardinals are looking to move a couple players before the deadline—which wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world considering the inconsistency they’ve displayed this season—they could opt to trade starter Lance Lynn, who has posted a 3.40 ERA and 1.14 WHIP this season, or Rosenthal, who has a 3.72 ERA while striking out 58 hitters, walking 16, and holding opponents to a .198 batting average. Lynn is a free agent at the end of this season and could end up being the most attractive rental starter on the market, and the Cardinals could replace him rather easily with highly-regarded prospect Luke Weaver. Rosenthal is under club control through next season, but with plenty of contenders looking for bullpen help, his elite velocity and strikeout totals could make him valuable on the trade market and help the Cardinals to fetch some value in return.


While the Cardinals have been linked to quite a few transformative position players this year, it seems unlikely that they’ll actually pull off a major deal before the deadline. Those types of deadline shakeups are rare for clubs on the outside looking in, with the most significant recent examples being the Braves’ acquisition of Matt Kemp last year and the Red Sox’s acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline in 2014. Instead, St. Louis will probably wait until the winter to add a middle-of-the-lineup bat.

It’s easier to envision the Cardinals acquiring an impactful reliever such as Brach or Wilson, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them move some of their excess position players (Grichuk and Diaz quickly come to mind as candidates) in order to do so. If the Cardinals can get solid value back in exchange for Lynn, they should probably also jump at the chance to do so, as they could replace him with Weaver for the rest of the season and will have the top pitching prospect in baseball, Alex Reyes, available to take a spot in the rotation next spring.