Fox Sports reports that the St. Louis Cardinals are "exploring the possibility" of adding a top of the rotation starting pitcher.
The piece names not only free agent native St. Louisan Max Scherzer as a potential target, but also potential trade acquisitions Cole Hamels of the Philiadelphia Phillies and David Price of the Detroit Tigers.
It notes that the signing of Scherzer would cost the Redbirds only money while trying to trade for Hamels or Price could cost St. Louis dearly in the young talent department.
That's why I have been in favor of a Scherzer deal -- provided the bidding doesn't reach much beyond the $150 million range -- as opposed to a trade. The death of Oscar Taveras and the need to replace him in right field by trading Shelby Miller have dealt a serious blow to the Cardinals' young talent pool. I'm not sure how much more the club could deal away without feeling the pinch over the next three or four years.
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The Fox story states that the Cardinals have plenty of money to facilitate a large payroll acquisition, a fact I have long believed. As I mentioned last month, the club's payroll is actually about $9 million less than it was two seasons ago. Couple that with the addition of $25 million in revenue in that time frame thanks to a new MLB national television contract and the expiring deals of Jaime Garcia and Jason Heyward (after 2015), Matt Holliday (potentially after 2016) and Jhonny Peralta (after 2017) and there is certainly payroll flexibility.
If the Birds traded for Price they'd put themselves in a potential jam with the possibility of losing both Price and Heyward after giving up several talented and cost controlled young players to get them. Hamels is under contract for four seasons with a fifth year as a team option. But he'd still cost the Cardinals several young players and $96 million guaranteed.
According to the Fox post, Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, Randal Grichuk and potentially Peter Bourjos are players that could be in play in a trade for a pitcher.
All three potential targets have ties to St. Louis with Scherzer being born and raised here, Hamels' wife is from here and Price is a Midwesterner from nearby Nashville.