ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) -- There is no doubt that should the Cardinals make a trade before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline it will likely be for a pitcher; that is no surprise.
What is the surprise is that Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal thinks the team could be a major player for arguably any of the top three pitchers who may get traded this month: Cole Hamels, Matt Garza and Zack Greinke.
It would be awesome to have any one of those three pitchers in a Cardinals uniform, but is it worth tearing up the farm system?
It will take a lot to get either Garza or Greinke because it will be a trade with a team in the same division. The Cubs and Brewers, respectively, do not want to have to face those pitchers for seasons to come and the Cardinals prefer not to risk giving up a top minor league player to a division foe.
Likewise with Hamels, the Cardinals will have to dig deep into their farm system (which is tenth best in the league according to Baseball America) to get the Phillies to trade the lefty starter.
As noted by Rosenthal, there are cheaper options such as the Houston Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez. A trade with the Astros isn’t quite a trade within a division considering the team will be moving to the American League next season and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow drafted many of the current Cardinals top prospects.
Do the Cardinals need a starting pitcher? Lance Lynn has been shaky in three of his last four starts, but he appeared to be back on track in Thursday’s 6-2 win over the Rockies. Joe Kelly, who was called-up when Jaime Garcia was placed on the DL, has given the team a chance to win in each of his five starts this season. It would seem that the team is set at the starting pitcher position.
The bullpen is the area where the team can most improve this month. The Cardinals ERA is 4.07 (22nd in MLB) from the seventh inning and later which is worse than the two bottom teams in the league, the Rockies (3.90) and Cubs (3.93). It takes a lot less trade bait to get a solid reliever than it does to get a starter so this seems to make the most sense if the team does not want to part with its precious farm system.