Talk around the Cardinals is heating up about the possibilty that outfielder Colby Rasmus may be on the trading block.
Rasmus, who has slumped through June and into July, has been roundly outplayed by Jon Jay so far this season. Jay's batting average is 50 points higher than that of Rasmus. And there is no argument about who is the better outfielder. With Skip Schumaker losing time at second base, he gives the Cardinals some added centerfield depth should they part with their talented but seemingly lazy incumbent centerfielder.
So, if Rasmus is dealt, where would he go? Here are a few possibilties:
Chicago White Sox: The South Siders have expresses interest in Rasmus before. Last year they reportedly offered outfielder Carlos Quinton for him. Their current centerfielder, Alex Rios, is hitting .213 with six homers and 21 RBIs, so they still need help at that position. But the Cardinals don't need a .251 hitting right fielder with 17 homers. They need pitching. Specifically a starter that push the over-exposed Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen where he could help stabilize that situation. Could this be the opportunity to land St. Charles native Mark Buehrle? The lefty has a prohibitive contract that pays him $14 million this season and a vesting option for $15 million that kicks in if he's traded. This deal would likely mean the end of Chris Carpenter's time with St. Louis after the 2011 season. And it would be something of a short-sighted deal for St. Louis. While the pitching would be greatly improved now -- Buhrle is 6-5 with a 3.42 ERA for an under .500 Chicago team -- he's 32 and has said that he's eyeing retirement when his current deal expired.
Tampa Bay Rays: Tampa likes cheap players and they have a ton of pitching. So it seems like a perfect match. But the Rays also have a pretty good centerfielder in BJ Upton. If the Birds swapped Rasmus for Upton and a starter, it's an all-in deal that could mean Albert Pujols would be impossible to sign for next year because of the added payroll. Or... the birds could flip Upton for infield or bullpen help.
Washington Nationals: The Nats have been looking for a centerfielder since April because former St. Louis pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel hasn't exactly siezed the position with a .232 batting average and three homers. The problem with dealing with the Nationals is that they're in the semi-advanced stages of rebuilding. And that means they aren't going to give up anything they think is a viable part of their future. Jordan Zimmerman and John Lannon are attractive targets. Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis and Tom Gorzellany? Not so much.