If the St. Louis Cardinals are considering dealing the organization's top-pitching prospect, Shelby Miller, there are a handful of potentially available pitchers they could go after.
While there is no guarantee they would be willing to part ways with him, his performance in 2012 has at least shown that he is not untouchable.
His last start was a major improvement, but he has not easily made the transition to Triple-A baseball.
Miller is 4-8 on the season with a 5.79 ERA with the Memphis Redbirds. In 82.1 innings pitched through 18 starts, the 21-year-old RHP has surrendered 17 home runs and 46 walks.
On the positive side, he also has 94 strikeouts. He still has some nasty pitches, but has not responded well to the improved hitting of the Pacific Coast League. Opposing batters are hitting .280 off of him to date.
Don’t let his record fool you. Miller still has what it takes to develop into a top-tier major league pitcher.
While his trade value might not be what it would have been last year, many clubs still know what he is capable of when he gets back on track.
If the Cardinals did decide to move him, what kind of impact players could they get?
In the case of most top-tier starting pitchers, Miller alone won’t make a deal. Following are a list of pitchers that might make the Cardinals more likely to move Miller.
While Francisco Liriano isn’t having the greatest season of his career, he is putting up respectable numbers.
His 3-8 record and 4.93 ERA aren’t too hot, but he has combined for 97 strikeouts so far this season in his 15 starts.
His walk total of 51 is a little high, but nothing to get too concerned with at this point.
I’m not sure the Cardinals would be willing to go this route for Miller, but with Liriano arbitration eligible for 2013, it’s possible they could make a case to pick him up.
A change of scenery and a contending team could do a lot to bring a pitcher like Liriano back around.
Matt Garza is one of the top trade prospects for 2012. At the very least, the Cardinals should be willing to kick the tires on him. Of course, that is contingent on whether the Chicago Cubs are willing to deal within the division.
Garza, 28, has gone 5-7 in 17 starts at Wrigley Field this year. He’s given up 15 home runs in just over 100 innings.
A move to a more neutral park, like Busch Stadium, could really do a lot for his numbers and ability. It’s likely at Busch, that home run total could cut in half.
The Cardinals should be interested in him.
Garza will be arbitration eligible in 2013, so he wouldn’t be a simple rental. At his age, Garza would be a nice one to lock up long-term.
To sign LHP Wandy Rodriguez could be a good move for the Cardinals.
Rodriguez is tied up through 2013 with a team option for 2014. If traded however, the $13 million option becomes a player option.
Currently 33, Rodriguez has a 3.51 ERA in 19 starts. Another major plus is that he has pitched 120.2 innings to date, meaning that he is capable of going deep into games consistently.
Rodriguez has 79 strikeouts and only 27 walks.
He would likely be a good fit for the Cardinals and would give them the ability to move Joe Kelly to the bullpen. With Kyle McClellan now out for the season, Kelly’s experience as a starter would make him a good solution for long relief situations.
Another Chicago Cub might be a more realistic possibility. While Ryan Dempster’s contract is a lot higher, the asking price will be quite a bit lower than for Garza.
He may be 35 years old, but he also has the MLB leading 1.82 ERA.
In 19 starts, Dempster has thrown 92 innings and 75 strikeouts. He still has the ability. While he may not have too many years left in him, for the time being he could be a solid pick-up.
Dempster with his joking personality would also make a good fit the Cardinals.
Whether the Cardinals could be interested would be closely linked to the asking price. While they might be somewhat reluctant to give up Miller for an older pitcher, if the deal was right, it could happen.
Zack Greinke would be the ultimate deal, but he would come at the ultimate price.
He’s also the biggest long shot for the Cardinals.
Getting Greinke will take more than just Miller. It’s likely that it would take two or three top prospects and that’s a price higher than the Cardinals would likely be willing to pay.
The Cardinals are likely unwilling to part with offensive standout Oscar Taveras, but might be willing to include Matt Adams and possibly another pitcher.
Would he be worth it? Probably.
If an extension is a sure thing, the deal would be a good one. If they empty the farm system for only two months of baseball, that’s not a good deal at all.