MLB

Cardinals trade deadline preview: Biggest needs, targets, top trade chips as St. Louis eyes Juan Soto

The St. Louis Cardinals are angling for their fourth straight postseason appearance. There’s some pressure to make that happen and then achieve a deep run. That’s because this past offseason, the Cardinals made the surprise decision to move on from manager Mike Shildt despite his strong track record of success. In his place is first-time big-league skipper Oliver Marmol. 

Marmol’s squad has dealt with injuries this season, but they head toward the deadline in wild-card position and within range of the first-place Brewers in the National League Central. That’s exactly the kind of team that should be making deadline additions — the team for which an additional win or two down the stretch could mean a great deal. As well, the Cardinals have some clearly defined roster needs as we work our way toward Aug. 2. So to get an idea of what improvements the front office should be targeting and what they can offer to get those improvements, let’s take a closer look at the Redbirds and where they stand in advance of the 2022 trade deadline. 

Needs

The big story in St. Louis right now is the team’s serious interest in swinging a blockbuster trade for Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. The Cardinals could indeed use another big bat in the lineup, and Soto is absolutely that. His career is off to a legendary start, and he’s still just 23 years of age. It will of course take a historic investment in order to sign him to an extension, but he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season. There’s lots of time to work something out. More fundamentally, the Cardinals can put together a package of prospects and team-controlled talents that no other team can match. If the organizational will is there, they can likely get something done. 

Beyond that, the Cardinals badly need starting pitching. Jack Flaherty is sidelined with ongoing shoulder issues, and Steven Matz will potentially miss the rest of the season with a torn MCL in his left knee. This was an entirely predictable issue for the Cardinals this season, but ownership and the front office chose to approach it with half-measures over the offseason. Now they’re desperate, and that’s the case even if Dakota Hudson (neck) is able to return by the weekend. The situation is such that one can argue the Cardinals should address the rotation first and then determine whether a deal for Soto is tenable. Beyond that, additional bullpen depth would also be a sensible pursuit. 

Potential targets

Soto of course is the leading target when it comes to fortifying the lineup. Insofar as the rotation is concerned, any starting pitcher on the market that profiles as at least useful should be a consideration. Possible solutions include Madison Bumgarner of the Diamondbacks, Frankie Montas and Paul Blackburn of the A’s, Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle of the Reds (assuming Cincy is willing to trade within the division), Noah Syndergaard of the Angels, Martin Pérez of the Rangers, José Quintana of the Pirates (again, assuming an intra-divisional trade is a possibility), Chad Kuhl of the Rockies, Jordan Lyles of the Orioles, Brad Keller of the Royals, and Pablo Lopez of the Marlins. That’s a wide variance in terms of quality, but the Cardinals need innings. 

In terms of bullpen help, David Bednar of the Pirates, Joe Mantiply of the Diamondbacks, Michael Fulmer and Andrew Chafin of the Tigers, Daniel Bard and Alex Colome of the Rockies, Matt Moore of the Rangers, and Paolo Espino of the Nationals would all boost St. Louis’ relief group. That’s of course not an exhaustive list.

Potential trade chips

If the Cardinals swing a deal for Soto, then top prospect Jordan Walker, rookie infielder Nolan Gorman, shortstop prospect Masyn Wynn, and some team-controlled talent at the major-league level — Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Brendan Donovan, or Tommy Edman, for instance — will be in play. Most of those names, however, would be moved only in the event of a Soto blockbuster. In a trade for rotation or bullpen help, the Cardinals might be willing to discuss prospects like catcher Ivan Herrera, outfielders Joshua Baez and Alex Burleson, and right-handers Tink Hence and Gordon Graceffo. Whether prospects or MLB players yet to reach their higher-salary years, the Cardinals have the resources to have a fruitful deadline — one that perhaps could make them the team to beat in the NL Central (not to damn with faint praise). 



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