If the St. Louis Cardinals have a single need that is more pressing than anything else, it’s the need for some stability in their bullpen.
The Redbirds have lost closer Trevor Rosenthal to a crisis of confidence and set-up man Kevin Siegrist to illness. Seth Maness’ double play magic has evaporated, and Jonathon Broxton has struggled to find consistency. New closer Seung Hwan Oh was impressive as a set-up man but has taken a bit of a step back as the closer.
So a guy like the New York Yankees’ Andrew Miller — who has the ability to be an elite closer or set-up man with a 1.37 ERA and average of .712 base runners allowed per inning — would be an attractive trade target as we near the August 1 non-waiver deadline.
Despite a rash of injuries that have depleted some of their depth, St. Louis still has plenty of pieces it could deal to acquire Miller.
Let’s start of by saying that the mention of No. 2 overall MLB prospect Alex Reyes is strictly out of bounds. And that’s going to be an obstacle because, in a competitive situation, opposing general managers are always going to shoot for the moon. But here are some other potential trade chips to consider:
Rosenthal: He’s having a bad month or two, that’s for sure. But he just turned 26 years old and he still consistently throws 99 mph. So it’s reasonable to think that he’s a tweak or two away from returning to form as the guy who saved 48 games last season with a 2.10 ERA.
Kolten Wong: Another guy who isn’t having a great season, Wong still has one of the quickest bats in the majors. Barely 25, there is a lot of reason to believe he could still be the .300 hitter/20 stolen base guy the Cardinals expected him to be when he emerged on the major league scene. I don’t see Wong taking the second base job back away from Matt Carpenter once Carp is healthy. A move to another team might be Wong’s best chance to make good on the promise of his talent.
Matt Adams: Cheap power, anyone? The slugging first baseman can’t get off the bench on a consistent basis in St. Louis because the Cardinals are in love with Brandon Moss, their top home run hitter so far in 2016. Adams’ stroke would play nicely in Yankee Stadium; he’d be an interesting replacement for .193-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira, whose contract will expire at the end of the season.
Two of those three players should be PLENTY to land Miller. It’s a move that would infuse the Yankees with some major league-ready, young talent while helping the Cardinals stabilize themselves now and save some money to be used for future development.
A bonus is that if the Birds traded for Miller, he wouldn’t end up with the division rival Chicago Cubs.
If the Yankees truly went into sell mode, the Cardinals could also try to pry their former right fielder, Carlos Beltran, out of New York. He’s hitting .299 with 19 home runs and could either spell Moss at first base, spend some time in right or left field or serve as a switch-hitting pinch hitter.
What a great story it would make if Beltran, who got to play in his first World Series with St. Louis in 2013, was able to spark the Cardinals to a second-half rally in 2016 and then take that last step to a championship.