Cardinals-Rays connect for a multi-player trade. Are the Cardinals 'done here', Rockies?
Yesterday, Thursday Jan. 9, 2020, it was announced. St. Louis Cardinals had made a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Top of their list to go to the Rays, PH/1B/OF Jose "Cafe Jr" Martinez. News that was heartbreaking, astounding, 'was not ready to hear' type of news for me personally.
J Martinez was player who gave his all for our Cardinals and brought some big hits during the four seasons holding a career .298 BA. With defense not being his strong suit, being traded to an American League team gives him the opportunity continue as Rays designated hitter, he will serve them well. And, Rays just became my favorite AL team. And, yes, as he stole the hearts of Cardinals fans with being a true team player with heart and soul - team supporter in every way - great person in general, Rays fans will see the same. #KeneticEnergy every moment, even at the plate.
I knew, more than likely, this day would come as the 'suggestion' was highly mentioned during the 2019 season. But, one is never ready to see your favorite player being issued travel papers.
Also in the mix headed for Tampa Bay, is prospect OF Randy Arozarena, along with Rays receiving a Compensation A pick (after 1st round) draft pick.
Only my best for both, now former Cardinals players, in this next chapter for each of them. TB Rays has just become my favorite AL Team.
IN RETURN PROSPECT LHP MATT LIBERATORE TO CARDINALS
Rays prospect Matt Liberatore is impressive and a lefty with a fastball ranges from the low 90's to 95 MPH; along with a swing-and-miss hammer curveball.
Scouting report: "He sits in the low 90s and touches 95 mph with a fastball that plays above its velocity because he's deceptive and gets such good extension over his front side. Liberatore's curveball is a swing-and-miss hammer, thrown with three-quarters tilt and good spin rate, and he introduced a new, and very effective, slider during the spring. His diving changeup, meanwhile, is another promising pitch, one that plays nicely off his heater and could be his best secondary offering when all is said and done."
Liberatore was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft. He posted a 3.10 ERA across 78 1/3 innings of work for Tampa Bay’s Single-A affiliate this past season. He was also ranked No. 41 on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list. (Marty Fenn, Clutchpoints)
Along with Liberatore, Cardinals will receive a low-level catching prospect and Compensation B pick (post-2nd), per ESPN as reported from 'a source' familiar with the trade.
JUST HOW LONG WILL LIBERATORE BE WITH THE CARDINALS?
This is the baseball off-season which lends to "Hot Stove" rumors and a bloggers delight - the season of speculations, also.
And the one currently that has Cardinals fans' hearts fluttering. That of one Colorado Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado. The 28 year old with a seven season career .295 BA/.546 SLG and very good third baseman who could be clean-up behind Cardinals 1B Paul Goldschmidt. What a corner presence the Cardinals would have. Then throw in the Golden Glove, 2B Kolten Wong. An infield extraordinaire.
Supposedly, as written/reported, Arenado 'finds' both the Cubs and Cardinals interesting landing places. As recent as yesterday, Cardinals and Texas Rangers were the two suitors of interest.
Cubs? What we do know, the northenders of Chicago are strapped to bring him on board. In my opinion due to, 1-extreme payroll currently over the tax threshold; and, 2- how would they be able to take on his outstanding - yet to paid - $207-243 MM, earliest free agent in 2026 because of their payroll situation. The big kicker, is Arenado's "player opt-out" at the end of 2021.
Cardinals would have the latter to consider, also. Even though, St. Louis has a strong pool of players, veteran and prospects, to choose from along with the money to entice the Rockies ... and Arenado. The money portion. Always a way to be creative with a contract for player - for organization.
The question is, in part, how many players would have to 'travel' (be traded) and who?
Players who have been mentioned:
Veterans per say.
Cardinals Ace RHP Jack Flaherty (2.75 ERA) and pitcher/reliever RHP Ryan Helsley, (2.95 ERA).
Outfielders Harrison Bader, (.205 BA) Tyler O'Neill, (.262 BA) and Lane Thomas (34 games in 2019/MLB Cardinals - 38 PA/12 Hits = .316/.409/.684/1.093 slashline.) Utility player Yairo Munoz, (.267 BA)
And, even Cardinals Utility Tommy Edman ~ 1 Yr/MLB Cardinals (92 games, 99 Hits for a .304/.350/.500/.850 slashline) logging 11 HR/36 RBI/17-2B/7-3B along with 15 stolen bases and only caught once. Total bases, 163.
SS Edmundo Sosa, right handed hitter (MiLB .283 BA),
OF Dylan Carlson, switch-hitter (MiLB 4 yrs, 4 levels, .260/.350/.431/.781. Breakout with Memphis Triple-A, August 2019, .361/.418/.681/1.098 slashline).
3B Nolan Gorman, left handed hitter (MiLB 2 seasons, low-A ball: Total 188 games, 182 Hits/32 HR/106 RBI/43-2B/7-3B, 335 total bases; but also, a 79-228/BB-SO ratio.
Yes, and some have thrown 3B Matt Carpenter in for good measure to get his contract off the books - even though a 'no-trade clause' is in place, supposedly money talks and could be done. The ultimate "But" - would Cardinals do so. He will be a free agent in 2022, which Cardinals have in place a $18.5M Vesting Option, $2M Buyout Option vests with 1100 PA total in 2020-21 and 550 PA in 2021 (Baseball Reference)
Cardinals look for him to overcome his ill-offensive performance of 2019, which was down across the board. In 2019, only played in 129 games with a .226/.334/.392/.726 slashline along with a 'out of kilter' BB-SO ratio, 63-129. In 2017, Carpenter held a 109-125/BB-SO ratio, followed by a 102-158 in 2018. Competing in the top of the National League with that of Cincinnati Reds Joey Votto. However, even that was not good enough for many Cardinals fans. Many complaints that once on base - no speed on the bags, which added to their complaint about him being lead-off.
Should he remain with the Cardinals, which I feel is probable. In my opinion he will become Cardinals most expensive bench utility piece. Unless decisive improvement is shown in the upcoming Spring training camp opening up for business Feb 12 with first ST game, Feb 22.
To add to the above list, Cardinals now have prospect LHP Matt Liberatore who could be flipped right out of St. Louis onto the "Rockies".
HOW DEEP INTO THE PLAYER AND PROSPECT POOL TO MAKE THE TRADE
To me that is a major Cardinals list of names. Don't get excited, I don't believe Cardinals would let go of Flaherty, our "Ace" down the stretch in 2019 and looking to be just as strong in 2020. Helsley, to me, a definite point of interest to add for the Rockies.
Cardinals have contended Bader would be their centerfielder in 2020. But, as baseball business goes, a statement is not a situation set in stone.
I believe, O'Neill would be a more likely candidate in the deal with his speed and defensive capabilities. Should he have playing time, I would look for him to maintain his .260+ BA and potentially be even better. I would say, Helsley would receive traveling papers, also.
Prospects let go? One? Or, two? What will be the cost in players to achieve bringing Rockies 3B Arenado to the Cardinals? One ~ reluctantly, I would give up young Nolan Gorman. If two - Sosa added to the list.
Just my view, but feel Cardinals have big plans for Dylan Carlson in 2020. No way will Tommy Edman be a consideration, along with Lane Thomas. Both will be strong pieces for St. Louis in 2020 and beyond.
The Cardinals farm system has slipped down in the MLB rankings. For them to rid themselves of their prime player and prospects for 'just one player' to be locked in? I don't agree going that far.
And, would Arenado walk in two years? ... Food for thought.
Or, is it enough, pay the money, to have him on board to help obtain Cardinals #12 World Series Pennant within those two seasons be enough? Then, let him walk. Some fans are that shallow - Only my opinion.
Should the 'deal' become reality, I look for Arenado to hold a very good BA - away from Coors Field, the hitters park, where he held a .351 BA. No matter what park he was in, he held an equal .315 BA against left and righthanded pitchers.
Away from 'home' he has held a .277 BA. At Busch Stadium last season, he slugged out a .458 BA (24 AB). Save a lowly .222 BA against the Cubs last season, he logged a .370 BA (collective average) against the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates combined.
Impressive, yes it is. And a decided plus! Our Cardinals pitchers would not have to face him.
I must admit, the joy of 'lobbying' for Paul Goldschmidt last season. The reality of the 'done deal', I can understand the expectations of 'what could be' by our fans for our Cardinals future. AND, I do have my own "crow pie' ready to eat should Cardinals 'make this deal" Just sayin'.
Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter, @elichap822.