How far would the Cardinals be willing to go to land an impact bat?

Posted by Scott Wuerz on May 13, 2014 

The rumors are flying left and right all of the sudden that the St. Louis Cardinals would like to trade Shelby Miller and Allen Craig or Matt Adams to the Miami Marlins slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

It seems like a stretch to me that the Marlins would be willing to trade one of the most productive hitters in the National League for a pitcher who seems to have plateaued in his development (Although the news that Miami's ace has a torn UCL might up Miller's trade value) and a hitter who is struggling or else a defensively-challenged first baseman who seems to have a phobia about driving in runs.

But, with a glut of pitching talent as well as several nearly MLB-ready outfielders, it seems the Redbirds have the pieces to get a deal done to shake their club out of its frustrating start if they are serious about getting something done.

I'm not necessarily advocating this deal. I'm just throwing it out there. But suppose the Marlins came calling and asked St. Louis to trade Oscar Taveras for Stanton straight up. What would you say if you were Cardinals GM John Mozeliak?

Before you dismiss it on the grounds that Taveras is so close to the big leagues and he's under control for several seasons, I have to ask what it is that the Cardinals expect to get out of Taveras. Aren't they basically hoping he'll grow up to be Stanton someday? Stanton is Stanton right now. And he's only 24 years old. It's not like trading your top prospect for a 33-year-old guy who is going to be a free agent at the end of the season.

If the Redbirds could negotiate a deal to extend Stanton for six seasons as a contingency to the swap, I'd think it would be worth considering. Stanton is due to become a free agent in 2017. If the Cardinals signed him for the last two years of his arbitration eligible season and four free agent seasons, they'd control him as long as they'd be guaranteed to keep Tavares -- if he pans out. The benefit for Stanton is that he makes more money before he would have hit free agency and gets security. But he's only 24 so he'd still have a chance to take a big bite of the free agent apple when he's 31. And let's not forget he'd get to flee the south Florida fire sale to play for a team that is competitive every year.

If Stanton wasn't willing to commit to the Cardinals, I would pass if I was Mozeliak. I'd only take that deal if the Redbirds weren't convinced that Taveras was recovered from his ankle injury of if they otherwise downgraded his stock.

I'd throw in Adams if I was Mozeliak to not only sweeten the pot if need be but also to clear space for Craig at first base where he could take some of the stress off his beaten up legs. Hopefully that would wake up the usually consistent slugger's unusually unproductive bat and help spread the impact of the deal throughout the lineup.

Such a deal would be huge for the Cardinals in the immediate future without sacrificing the potential of the next six years. In fact, it would make sense to sign a franchise-type player as Matt Holliday's contract moves into its latter stages and Yadier Molina moves toward his mid 30s. While Stanton is likely ready to assume that burden, it would be asking a lot for Taveras to carry the mantle of "franchise player."

Stanton is one of only a handful of players good enough to potentially pry Taveras out of St. Louis. And, with as much as the Cardinals could use the offense right now, could it be that they've kept Taveras in the minors to enhance his trade value by not starting his free agent clock?

Again, this deal is only thinking out loud. But this would be a pretty exciting lineup with the addition of Stanton's .307 batting average with 11 homers and 42 RBI. 

3B Carpenter (L)

1B Craig (R)

LF Holliday (R)

RF Stanton (R)

 C Molina (R)

SS Peralta (R)

2B Ellis (R)

CF Bourjos (R)  or Jay (L)

 

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