While the talk in Texas is that the St. Louis Cardinals would be a great trade partner for the Rangers, everyone else seems to be hung up on the idea that the Redbirds are still in love with Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Every rumor I read about Baltimore Orioles third baseman and shortstop Manny Machado counts St. Louis out as a serious player based on the theory — not that the Cards wouldn't part with the prospects it takes to get Machado or that they'd be fearful that they couldn't re-sign the pending free agent — but that the Birds are holding out for Donaldson, their one true love.
In case the national pundits haven't paying attention, Donaldson is so injury-prone that he was just injured while rehabbing from an injury. No kidding. He's managed to make it onto the field for only 34 games so far this season. When he has been able to suit up, Donaldson is hitting a less than scintillating .234 with five home runs. Last year he hit .270 with 33 home runs. But he did it in only 113 games because he couldn't stay healthy. He once one of the most fearsome sluggers in the majors. But Donaldson will be 33 years old next year. I just don't see the Cardinals inking him to the sort of deal it would take to land him because of his age and injury history.
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Toronto wouldn't trade Donaldson the last two years, no matter how hard St. Louis tried to pry him out of Canada. If the Blue Jays are suddenly willing to be out-bid for their marquee player, shouldn't that be a sign that he's damaged goods?
I would have LOVED to have Donaldson three years ago. Two years ago. But that ship has sailed. This has all the hallmarks of a situation where the Jays squeezed all of the aging slugger's best years out of him and now they're ready to wash their hands and walk away. The Cardinals would be taking a huge risk if they built their off-season around hopes of landing Donaldson as a free agent. But they're downright nuts if they give up two or three top prospects to get Donaldson as a trade deadline rental.
Toronto has a few good players. But it doesn't seem like a good partner for a bigger deal. Their offense is more anemic than what the Cardinals can currently field and they've got a couple of decent pitchers but no one who stands out as better than what St. Louis currently has in the bullpen or the rotation.
While the Redbirds could use some help — especially defensively — on the infield corners, I'm totally unenthusiastic about giving up top prospects for a rental player the team doesn't have a lock on re-signing. Machado is the only player among the trio of third basemen St. Louis has been tied to who would be worth the investment. But he would also be the most difficult to retain with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers both expected to be major bidders.
Let the buyer beware.