Two key losses for the St. Louis Cardinals in July opened the door for two specific moves to happen before the July 31 trade deadline.
First was replacing catcher Yadier Molina, who will be sidelined until at least September with a sprained thumb. General Manager John Mozeliak filled that void by signing veteran free agent A.J. Pierzynski before Saturday’s game.
Next, and perhaps the toughest, task will be finding a starter to replace Michael Wacha, whose shoulder injury will keep him out until September at best and the remainder of the season at worst.
Former Major Leaguer and current Fox Sports MLB analyst Gabe Kapler said the Cardinals can still win the National League Central Division without Molina and Wacha, but said the club should do what it can to land Price.
“I believe the club should go after David Price,” Kapler said. “I believe the Cardinals have a really good opportunity to acquire David Price because of who they have to offer back in return and because of their Triple-A depth, particularly at the outfield position. Obviously, if they made a move like that I think it would propel them to the front-runners in the division.”
A week and a half ago, it seemed as if Price being traded was a sure thing. But with the Rays winning their ninth in a row Saturday night, they’ve catapulted back into playoff contentions. Tampa Bay is now 6.5 games out of the lead in the American League and 3.5 back in the AL Wild Card heading into Sunday’s games.
They very well could have played themselves back into keeping Price around for the remainder of the season to make a playoff run. Without Price, there is no playoff run.
The Cardinals do have plenty of outfield depth, all the way from Triple-A (Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty) to the lower levels (Rowan Wick). The Rays may demand Oscar Taveras be included in a trade as well, and it’s unclear right now as to what Mozeliak plans to do with either Taveras or slumping Allen Craig. The general sense is that Mozeliak sees Taveras as a big part of the future for the Cardinals, and a logjam in the outfield could mean moving Craig is that much more appealing.
The Cardinals’ scouting department is undoubtedly compiling a list of potential pitching targets, but Kapler said Price is the one true difference maker on the market.
“While he’s not a bat, he’d have a more substantial impact for any club that’s looking for a bat,” Kapler said. “I don’t believe that real strong, powerful impact bat is really on the market publicly. He might be behind the scenes, I just don’t know who he is.
“It’s sort of like the addition of a pitcher to prevent runs is greater than the value of a guy who may or may not produce big upside as it relates to producing runs going forward for the Cardinals.”
The Cardinals are still in good shape to make the playoffs, but this is a year in which some sort of a deal needs to be made in order to solidify that.
“I think the Cardinals are a playoff team,” he said. “It’s just a question of how formidable of an opponent they are at that point, how healthy they are and did they make an acquisition.”
Editor’s note: This is Part Four of a four-part series of my conversation with former Major Leaguer and current MLB analyst Gabe Kapler.
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