ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – On Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals announced they had made a trade.
No, not that trade. I regret to inform you that Nolan Arenado still plays for the Rockies.
The trade announced Tuesday by St. Louis was one with the Miami Marlins in which the Cardinals acquired right-handed hitting outfielder Austin Dean. In exchange, the Cardinals sent another outfielder whose name you did not know, Diowill Burgos, to Miami.
Dean, 26, has appeared in 98 MLB games with pedestrian results in his career, recording a .223 average with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 311 plate appearances. He was designated for assignment by the Marlins last week, which means the Marlins no longer wanted him to occupy a spot on their 40-man roster.
It's interesting optics that the Cardinals—who have been far more competitive in the standings than the Marlins in recent years—determined a castoff from Miami was worthy of a spot on their own 40-man roster. But because of the trade for Matthew Liberatore last week, the Cardinals had two openings on their 40-man, allowing them to pursue this move freely.
But will it be worth even the trouble of filling out the paperwork?
In Dean, the Cardinals are gambling on the hope that he will translate his robust numbers at Triple-A into success at the MLB level. Last season, Dean split time between Miami and Triple-A New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League. Though his numbers for Miami were underwhelming, Dean put together a .337/.400/.635 batting line in Triple-A, mashing 18 home runs in 282 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly PCL.
In 2018, Dean was named Marlins’ Minor League Player of the Year, recording a .345 average, notching 12 home runs with 68 RBIs.
What the Cardinals see in Dean is likely similar to what they saw in Tyler O'Neill before acquiring him from Seattle in 2017. Dean's raw power numbers and offensive prowess at the level just below the majors appear to have enticed the Cardinals to take a chance on him.
The most puzzling aspect of the move is that it comes shortly after last week's trade sending Randy Arozarena and Jose Martinez to Tampa, which was touted as a move that would clarify the pecking order in the team's crowded outfield.
But unlike the O'Neill trade in 2017, which sent capable left-handed starter Marco Gonzales to the Mariners, Tuesday's deal for Dean won't cost the Cardinals anyone they could have otherwise utilized this season.
Diowill Burgos is an 18-year-old outfielder who was signed by Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He appeared in 58 games in 2019, splitting time between two rookie ball teams in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. He hit just .205 in 22 games for the GCL Cardinals, but fared far better in the Dominican Summer League, posting a .382/.481/.725 batting line in 36 games there.
It's conceivable that Burgos develops into a major-league talent someday—he was evidently set to appear at No. 11 on FanGraphs' ranking of the top Cardinals prospects—but we're still several years from learning whether that will ever come to fruition. The Cardinals saw Dean available and in a stage of his career much closer to that make-it-or-break-it threshold, so they pulled the trigger on what should be considered more of a footnote than any sort of impact trade. Can Dean build upon his minor-league accomplishments to prove he can hack it at the game's highest level?
Though the Cardinals had no real need to do so, it looks like they intend to be the team to benefit from it if he can.