Welcome to back to Trade Poll Tuesday, a weekly feature breaking down one hypothetical trade proposal that comes from YOU, the readers. Got an idea for a trade you’d like to see the Cardinals make? Let me know on Twitter @bschaeffer12, and your suggestions could be featured in the next edition of #TradePollTuesday.
This week's submission comes from @aleek556 on Twitter.
Proposal: 2B Kolten Wong, C Carson Kelly and OF Oscar Mercado to the Texas Rangers for 3B Adrian Beltre and LHP Cole Hamels
I assure you it’s nothing personal toward Kolten Wong that he ends up in Trade Poll Tuesday in consecutive weeks. Before diving into this proposal, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention that I concluded I wouldn’t do the deal involving him last week!
With that out of the way, let’s get into this new proposal involving a couple veterans of the Texas Rangers. Adrian Beltre is 39 years old and a member of the 3,000-hit club, but he’s showing in 2018 that he’s still got something left in the tank. He’s sitting on a .309/.368/.446 batting line with four home runs and 25 RBIs, good for a 117 OPS+, 17% above league average. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels has been serviceable in a potential contract year (he has a $20 million team option for 2019), compiling a 3.61 ERA and striking out about a batter per inning (97 Ks in 97.1 IP).
Despite some injury-related bumps in the road, the Cardinals have enjoyed strong production from their starting pitching this season. Team starters have a combined 3.32 ERA, which leads the National League and ranks third among all MLB clubs. While starting pitching seems to be an area of depth for St. Louis—Dakota Hudson has been stellar for Memphis and John Gant just tossed a gem while subbing for the injured Michael Wacha—it might be reassuring to add a veteran presence like Hamels to the mix. You need only consider Wacha, Alex Reyes, Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright’s dealings with the DL this season to realize how unforgiving pitching injuries can be to a club. The Cardinals have weathered it thus far, but they likely have little interest in further testing that depth.
Depth on the infield is another question. The Cardinals already have more regulars than they have available spots on the infield, but projecting the production of the players they already have is tough. I mentioned in last week’s TPT that Wong’s spot in the lineup seemed the most obvious to upgrade due to his poor production at the plate this season, but an alignment including Beltre would likely shift Carpenter, who plays poorly at second, into that role. That’s barring some creativity to move Jose Martinez to the outfield, anyway.
Even with better play of late, Wong’s OPS+ is 66. Beltre would, at least for 2018, seem like a real upgrade for the lineup. Perhaps enough to negate the aggregate downgrade on defense, even. And while Hamels isn’t perfect—his league-most 20 homers allowed and a 5.23 FIP suggest his numbers may be better than his overall performance has been—it would be appealing to add a lefty to the rotation, and he’d bring quite a resume along with him. Beltre would, too. And that’s why it would be hard to envision the Rangers accepting an offer like this one.
Wong has still been valuable, even with an offensive profile ranking near the bottom of baseball this season. Oscar Mercado has some nice numbers in Memphis, and could be a solid big-league outfielder some day. But it might be fair to say some of the luster has worn off Carson Kelly’s perception as a top prospect or trade chip. His .752 OPS this season in Memphis is fine, but he hasn’t thrived at the plate at any point in his big-league chances. The longer he goes without showing his upside in the majors, the more teams might wonder about how much upside he actually has.
It’s speculation, but with the kind of pitching talent the Cardinals have in the system, it would be a surprise to see the Rangers accept a deal like this one without going after the strength of the organization and including at least one of those young arms. Especially considering the Rangers might like to sign Beltre beyond this season rather than trade him for peanuts. Perhaps the ask would be Ryan Helsley or even Dakota Hudson’s inclusion. In that case, St. Louis would probably prefer to wait out the development of their youngsters than trade them away for short-term assets.
My take: It’s a trade I would make if I’m the Cardinals, but I don’t anticipate it being one to which the Rangers would agree.
What say you? Is this a trade you would offer to the Rangers if you were in charge of the Cardinals? Sound off by voting in the poll and replying with your thoughts!