(BaseballStL) - By now everyone is well aware the Cardinals completed a blockbuster trade this morning which sends pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to Atlanta in exchange for outfielder Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden.
This move has so many parts to it that it’s tough to find where to start.
Let’s begin with Heyward. We all knew with the tragic passing of Oscar Taveras the Cardinals needed to do something in the outfield. The options were plentiful. They could have gone after the Cuban Yosmany Tomas. They could have traded for Carlos Gonzalez. They could have done a number of things. But Heyward is the man Mozeliak wanted.
The guy is 25-years old and has all the potential in the world. Now, his last couple years have not been as stellar as Atlanta had hoped. The former #1 pick hit just 25 home runs COMBINED the last two seasons which is fine for someone who has hit lead off like him. The problem is his on-base percentage of .341 (2013) and .351 (2014) is good but not Matt Carpenter good.
The Ridgewood, New Jersey native debuted in the big leagues at 20 years old and hit 18 home runs right off the bat with a .849 OPS in 2010. Heyward’s big breakout season was 2012 when he mashed 27 bombs even if he did strike out 152 times.
He’s a free agent at the end of the 2015 season so the Cardinals will be in a position to either sign him long term (depending on what they think of Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty) or let him walk and get a draft pick in return. The fact the Braves traded him is telling to me. That makes me believe Heyward’s headed to the free agent market regardless. But then again the Cardinals have a way of keeping players in St. Louis because of the atmosphere, fan base and love for the city.
The next big aspect of this move is Shelby Miller. Like Heyward, he was practically put in Cooperstown the day he was drafted in 2009. Two full seasons of starting later and he is yet to reach that potential. The 24-year old’s ERA of 3.06 in 2013 ballooned to 3.74 this past year. He was even sent to the bullpen briefly.
Miller has a fastball that is as good as anyone’s in the game. The problem for him is consistency of his secondary pitches. He just never was able to find that command of the breaking ball and hitters were then able to sit on the fastball. That’s a problem if you want to be a legitimate ace.
It appears to me like the Cardinals thought Miller is a #3 or #4 starter at best.
With Miller out of the equation that moves Carlos Martinez, presumably, into the starting rotation. Martinez has a higher upside than Miller anyway given the devastating slider he possesses. But Martinez was ticketed for the 8th inning to set up Trevor Rosenthal. That’s where Jordan Walden comes in.
At 27-years old the Fort Worth native had a 2.88 ERA in 2014 with 60 strikeouts in 50 innings. He’s one of the better set up men in the game. Walden even closed for the Angels in 2011, accumulating 32 saves that season. He’ll solidify the 8th inning with ease.
Tyrell Jenkins just completed an outstanding turn in the Arizona Fall League with an ERA under three. He was depth in the minor leagues and was probably always a trade chip. The Cardinals obviously think he doesn’t have nearly as much potential as Rob Kaminsky or Jack Flaherty (who can’t be traded anyway just yet).
So when you add it all up, this is what the deal looks like to me.
The Cardinals had a sudden hole in right field with the tragic death of Oscar Taveras. They needed Jason Heyward. In order to get him they had to deal from their surplus, pitching, which included giving up on Shelby Miller. To take Miller’s spot in the starting rotation they’ll project Carlos Martinez who was originally ticketed for the 8th. Jordan Walden has that job now. Tyrell Jenkins was pitching depth the Cardinals could afford to trade away given their other top prospects.