MLB Trade Deadline Decisions

It’s this time of year that trade rumors are flying left and right and rarely do any of them get executed. GM’s all across baseball are working endless hours with their top deputies to inquire on any player they feel would help their club and gauge the asking price. So with a week left before the deadline what are the Cardinal’s needs? Who should be be targeting? What players/prospects should be off limits? I will try to break down this very complex process to define the Cards biggest needs and players we should be targeting.

Cards Needs

Anyone who watches the Cards on a regular basis can identify our weaknesses. We need to upgrade our rotation, bullpen and SS. My gut feeling says the Cards have identified our rotation as the biggest need so we can move McClellan back to the bullpen which kills 2 birds with one stone. McClellan is very effective against lefties as well so he could be used when needed as a lefty specialist (as weird as that sounds). If we can’t find a fit that is within a price we are willing to pay for rotation help we will certainly find a bullpen arm to provide stability and depth. The last and hardest area to address is SS. Theriot’s offense was making up for his defensive woes early in the year. Well his offensive is suffering of late and today’s game is the reason why we need someone that can sure up the defensive side.

The Untouchables

1) Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras – The first 2 are names that most everyone knows about and its been publicized that we are not going to trade them. Taveras is another guy I see as an untouchable product. By far our best upside offensive prospect. He has 5 legit tools and is tearing up opposing pitchers this year (over .400 avg). He has been on the DL twice but nothing concerning long term. he can play all 3 OF positions well.

2) Colby Rasmus – With all the talk of teams being interesting in Rasmus and Mo stating he is not looking to deal Rasmus I will set the record straight. I don’t think Mo is going to sell low and no team will be willing to give a package of MLB upgrades in the rotation as well as 1-2 upper tier prospects to get a deal done. Maybe he isn’t untouchable right now but because the price “should” be very high no team is going to come close.

The Candidates

The potential trade targets are becoming clearer as teams are defining if they are buyers or sellers. He is a list of players I feel are available and would be good fits for the Cards.

SS: Very few candidates are out there that will truly be an upgrade but there might be some reasonably priced guys that might thrive with a change of scenery and a pennant race.

1) Rafael Furcal – First off I know his 2011 stats and health has been rough at best. But this guy is a proven winner and I feel he could be a huge bargain for the Cards. I imagine Theriot splitting time with Skip at 2B and obviously if Furcal goes down with an injury you still go back to Theriot at SS. Furcal can still play SS well and hit leadoff if he can get his act together on offense…2 things that would be very attractive to the Cards. The Dodgers are looking for salary relief and Furcal is making $12M this year so it will take a low level prospect IMO. He also has a club option for 2012 for $12M that we would obviously decline but a strong 2nd half might intrigue us to look at a 1 yr deal for a very reasonable price.

2) UMMMMMM! Well there are no other trade options that would be a legit upgrade at SS. Can we pray Tyler Greene gets promoted after being on fire since being sent down to AAA? Well at least I am trying to keep the glass is half full concept

Starting Pitcher: I do not see Jimenez as a guy we have a legit shot to get. James Shields and Wandy Rodriguez would also take a haul to snag so they aren’t serious contenders for us.

1) Hiroki Kuroda – Another Dodger’s player but much harder to acquire than Furcal though he has the same salary in 2011 at $12M. First major obstacle is a full no trade clause and who knows if he would want to come to STL. He would be a rental that you overpay for to get and I think other teams will offer more than we are willing to go. He is one of the more underrate SP’s in the majors and would slot in nicely as our #2/3 SP behind Carp and maybe Garcia. Don’t see this happening but it makes a lot of sense if the price is right and he would be willing to come here.

2) Jeremy Guthrie – The O’s are certainly going to sell of parts to gain some prospects in the next week. Guthrie will be one of their more attractive options to sell. He is not a TOR arm and probably never will be…but he is turning into a workhorse which would help keep our bullpen fresh down the stretch. He will hit his last arbitration year in 2012 so we will get 1 and a half years of his service which could bridge the gap nicely until Miller is ready to arrive for good. I can imagine a mid-tier prospect with upside and maybe a low end prospect getting a deal done.

3) Jason Vargas – The Mariners could deal Vargas for the right package. They are looking for offensive prospect help which is something we don’t have much of but there might be a deal to be had. He is under cost control thru 2013 which will certainly raise his trade value but his stats are intriguing. He has gone deep into game often this year though having a less than stellar record due to poor run support. The asking price might be higher than I would be willing to go but certainly worth a discussion.

4) Livan Hernandez – This guy just keeps getting the job done year after year. He is a proven workhorse that the Nats would certainly part with for a mid-tier prospect and maybe another throw in player. His veteran leadership would also be nice down the stretch and into the playoffs.

5) Aaron Harang – A guy I have never liked much with the Reds but for a number of years kept putting up strong numbers. With the Pads this year he is resurrecting his career in a big way after 3 tough years in a row. He would slot in as a #3/4 in our rotation and seems to go 6-7 innings every outing. Not sure the price but the Pads are looking for athletes in their new development strategy so one of our athletic OF prospects might get the deal done.

6) Jeff Francis/Chris Capuano – 2 similar profile southpaws that have been derailed by injuries in recent times. Recently a report that the Mets want to keep Capuano might keep him from being available unless you are willing to overpay. Francis is certainly available and should be reasonably priced to fit into the #5 SP slot. Not sold either of these pitchers are truly upgrades from our current rotation though.

7) Brett Myers – His trade value has taken a nose dive but we all know what he is capable of. He is a hard nosed starter that typically goes deep into games. Doubt Houston sells low so the price will most likely be way too high to consider…but worth a call.

8) Kevin Slowey – Currently in AAA for the Twins as they didn’t have room in their rotation to put him after a rehab assignment. Under contract thru 2013 so his price tag might be higher than it should be. A guy I feel has room left to go and could be a solid #3 one day. Acquiring him would be as much about 2012/13 as trying to push for the playoffs this year.

Relief Pitchers: Mike Adams and Tyler Clippard will have price tags that are mind blowing so they are out.

1) Heath Bell/Luke Gregerson – The Friars will not part with either unless they get good value in return. They are 2 of the better relievers in all of baseball so our bullpen would get a huge boast with either. Oh yeah…we use to have Gregerson in our system and let him get away along with Mark Worrell for Khalil Greene…we know who won that trade! Though I think both would be great additions I just don’t see us paying the price it will take.

2) Koji Uehara – Can you say lights out this year! He hasn’t allowed a since June 19th! Has a 2012 Vesting option that will almost certainly kick in at $4M. I would think the O’s are looking to capitalize on Uehara’s phenomenal year so his price tag could be steep.

3) Grant Balfour – The same pitcher that made his name with the Rays and cashed in this offseason with the A’s. He is under contract in 2012 with a club option in 2013. Billy Beane will certainly want top dollar.

The Conclusion:

There are a number of options that we are going to be interested in but ultimately we get at least a starting pitcher to upgrade our rotation which ultimately upgrades our bullpen with McCellan getting moved. Jeremy Guthrie makes the most sense though Harang, Hernandez and Vargas would help us quite a bit as well. I also think if we can get Furcal for a decent price we do it. Theriot is killing us defensively at SS and we have no other answer internally IMO. With Furcal’s stats and healthy issues this year I might get mobbed for suggesting this option but how can we keep on going with extreme struggles at the most demanding defensive position on the field?