I mentioned on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, half in jest, that at least the Cardinals would be more likely to find a trade partner, if they so desired, following the injury of Alex Reyes.
The reasoning was that every general manager in the major leagues couldn’t look past the best prospect under Redbirds control whenever the St. Louis front office tried to engage them to try to make a deal. Since Reyes is now off the table, as he mends from elbow ligament transplant surgery, other general managers would be forced to be more realistic in their expectations.
St. Louis was said to be interested in former Chicago White Sox hurler Chris Sale and star outfielder Adam Eaton before they ended up in other uniforms when Cardinals general manager John Mozelial wouldn’t part with Reyes.
Suddenly, just a few days after Reyes was lost for the season, rumors have emerged that the Cardinals are one of four teams in the running to land another Chicago White Sox hurler, Jose Quintana. Could it be that the Birds’ other trade chips suddenly became more attractive with Reyes out of the picture?
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The Cardinals have several promising prospects that include outfielders, shortstops and pitchers. They also have potential trade chips in Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Adams. I can’t believe the team doesn’t have pieces it could put together to make a deal if Mozeliak wished.
It remains to be seen if the Birds have enough to land Quintana. But, if they do, it would be an intriguing move. And not just a knee-jerk reaction to fill in for Reyes as he misses the 2017 season. Quintana is under team control until 2020 and could be a fixture in the middle of the St. Louis rotation for years to come.
Quintana, 28, has pitched 200 or more innings in each of the past four seasons with a 3.35 ERA and an average of 185 strikeouts compared to 50 walks. Another attractive feature is the fact that he will make $7 million in 2017, an absolute bargain by major league standards.
A rotation of Carlos Martinez, Quintana, Wainwright, Lynn and Leake is pretty appealing for this season. A rotation of Martinez, Quintana, Reyes, Wainwright and Leake in 2018 looks even better.
The move could also be good for the rebuilding White Sox who could acquire young talent for the future and a mix of major leaguers who could help bridge the gap.
One of the problems I have with the Cardinals team composition is that the club is average to above average in several components of the game. But it isn’t really dominant in any of them.
You don’t have to have a roster that is perfect in every way to win in the major leagues. But it’s nice if there is one aspect of the team that you can lean on to dominate the opposition. Last year the Cardinals had an all or nothing offense that on some days would hit three home runs and score seven or eight runs. Other days, the batsmen would strike out 12 times and never dent the plate at all. Meanwhile, the pitching was inconsistent and the other team too often scored five or more runs in a game.
If you can put together a shutdown pitching staff, the offense can take some of the pressure off itself and, instead of trying to hit three-run homers, it can manufacture a run here and there with good fundamental baseball. In short, dominating in pitching gives a team more avenues to victory on a daily basis.
I don’t know that the Cardinals will make any bold moves before the season starts. But, if they do, Quintana might be the sort of guy who could really help them.