Now that the non-waiver deadline has passed, we’re taking a look back at what each team was able to accomplish before 4 p.m. ET on July 31. Next up in our recap series, the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals (56-56), 3.5 GB in NL Central, 7.5 GB in NL Wild Card
ACQUIRED: OF Tyler O’Neill (from SEA)
TRADED: LHP Marco Gonzales (to SEA)
Heading into this year’s trade deadline, there were plenty of different opinions about how the Cardinals would shake things up for the stretch run. In the end, they ended up doing virtually nothing, only making a one-for-one swap of minor-leaguers with the Mariners. They were the only team in the majors that didn’t add or subtract a player from their major-league roster via the trade market in July.
Now knowing that the Cardinals didn’t do anything else at the deadline, the Gonzales-for-O’Neill swap looks like a very odd one, as O’Neill is just another addition to St. Louis’ glut of outfielders. The Cardinals have used seven outfielders in the majors this season: Tommy Pham, Magneuris Sierra, Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez, Randal Grichuk, and Stephen Piscotty. All of them are under club control for the long term, and their two Opening Day corner outfielders, Grichuk and Piscotty, are the only ones who have endured prolonged struggles this year. In addition, their No. 11 and 18 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, Randy Arozarena and Oscar Mercado, are outfielders at Double-A Springfield, and 24-year-old Jose Adolis Garcia, who signed with the Cardinals in February after being the MVP of Cuba’s top professional league in 2016, has raked at Triple-A Memphis this year. While he joins a very deep position group, the 22-year-old O’Neill brings plenty of raw power (23 homers in Triple-A this season) despite a very high strikeout rate (125 punchouts in 454 plate appearances).
The O’Neill trade seemed like it quickly would lead to another outfielder being traded, but ultimately that didn’t happen. Now the front office will have at least another couple months to decide which two outfielders among a group of 10 should flank Fowler long-term.
Gonzales, meanwhile, was a former first-rounder who had shown flashes of brilliance as both a starter and a reliever, but he was going to be out of options next spring and was far down the depth chart for a rotation spot, with prospects Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, and Jack Flaherty having passed him up, and for a role as a lefty reliever, with Brett Cecil, Kevin Siegrist, and Tyler Lyons all being ahead of him. He’s already made his way into the Mariners’ rotation, so the move was in his best interest.
Ultimately, the biggest surprise was probably that St. Louis didn’t move pending free agent starter Lance Lynn, but since they’re still within striking distance of the Cubs in the NL Central, it’s understandable why they didn’t rush to sell him if the offers for him weren’t great. There were rumors about them going after a middle-of-the-lineup hitter like Josh Donaldson or Giancarlo Stanton, but it didn’t seem likely that the front office would actually pull off an aggressive move like that when the team has failed to achieve prolonged success at any point this season.
Despite their quiet deadline, there’s certainly always the possibility that St. Louis make a waiver-wire deal this month. While the Cardinals might seek to move pending free agent reliever Zach Duke, any trade bringing a player to St. Louis would likely be one with future seasons in mind, though, as there’s not really any area they need to address for the purpose of depth this year.
For a complete list of our trade deadline recaps, click here.