ST. LOUIS, Mo. (BaseballStL) -- From the sounds of things it appears the Cardinals are in the running for three big ticket starting pitchers: Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, Detroit’s David Price and free agent (and St. Louis native) Max Scherzer. Various media reports have linked the Redbirds to all of them.
All three of those guys represent a significant boost to a starting rotation that could be vulnerable to innings if injury strikes the way it usually does over a six-month baseball season. All three of those guys, however, also are going to be very hard to acquire in their own unique way.
Scherzer is a free agent and is currently trying to sell his services to the highest bidder. He wouldn’t cost anything in a trade but the Cards would lose their 1st round pick in June’s MLB Draft not to mention the slot money that goes along with that selection.
Hamels is under contract with the Phillies for four more years guaranteed (with a vesting option for a fifth season) so he’s going to require giving up the most in a trade. Philadelphia is reportedly looking for two premium talents in exchange for the left-handed ace.
Price, on the other hand, is a year away from free agency so he’ll likely require less in a trade with Detroit. But another option for the Tigers could be to allow their prized lefty and the new team an exclusive negotiating window to hammer out a deal. If one occurs, that would mean the new club has assurances Price isn’t just a rental. Translation: they’d have to give up more to get him.
The Cardinals also have a fourth option. Stand pat. Go with what they have right now (Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez) and see where you are in July when the trade deadline rolls around.
Which one works best for the Cardinals? Honestly, it doesn’t really matter because they may not have their pick of the litter. GM John Mozeliak is smart. He assigns values – correctly – to each player and makes offers (either through a contract or in a trade) which correspond to that value.
The offer to Scherzer may not be enough and he could elect to go elsewhere. They may not want to give up what Philadelphia wants for Hamels and he may go elsewhere, or nowhere at all. Same with David Price.
Mozeliak might be waiting to find out if any of his offers get accepted and if not? Oh well. He’s prepared to go into the season under option number four. I find it hard to believe he extends beyond what he’s comfortable just to make one of these big splashes.
For years the Cards have wanted to see what would happen with Martinez as a starter. They have that chance. It’s not like the worst case scenario here is a bad one. It’s just that Martinez probably won’t be throwing 200 innings this season and the team may elect to have more of a sure thing in place.
You’d imagine we’re no more than a few weeks away from gaining clarity on this. Spring training’s not too far away.