With the fifth starter slot in a limbo of sorts, the Cardinals are kicking the tires for another arm, says Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.
So if the Cardinals do make a move on another starter and/or a utility player, they have some nice chips with which to bargain. It has been widely held that the Cardinals have the best farm system (ESPN Insider required) in baseball, so they have a few players to offer up for some help going forward in 2013.
Here are the top five minor league bargaining chips the Cardinals can offer in a potential trade.
I realize most of the readers will want to beat me with a sock full of change for even suggesting the Cardinals trade Kolten Wong.
But the simple truth is this: Wong is an excellent minor leaguer with major league talent and the Cardinals should look at leveraging that.
Matt Carpenter is an All-Star second baseman and has proven how valuable he is to the Cardinals.
I have heard the argument that the Cardinals should let Freese walk, move Carpenter to third and use Wong at second. I disagree with that from the standpoint that Wong is not a proven commodity and Freese is.
Obviously, you never know what Wong will be until he gets his chance, so it's risky to deal Wong.
Wong's stock is high, as he is batting .298 in Triple-A Memphis and has 13 stolen bases. Wong is a solid defender and will most likely have a solid major league career. That is why, if the Cardinals can find the right piece to bring home a championship in 2013, they ought to look seriously at dealing Wong.
Ryan Jackson hasn't yet become what the Cardinals expected him to be, and that is an everyday player at the big league level.
Granted, his sample size has been relatively non-existent, with just 25 games in big league experience in his career.
Jackson is starting to get to the point where he needs to get some time in The Show to showcase if he can make it or not. He is batting .300 in Triple-A Memphis and could possibly be an everyday shortstop for a major league club.
The Cardinals are full at shortstop with Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso quite capable of manning the position. (Frankly I hope to see more Descalso in the second half of the season.)
Jackson is also versatile, playing 28 games at third base and 45 games at shortstop. He could be a utility player for someone while cutting his teeth at the big league level. Jackson could possibly fill that role for the Cardinals, but if a decent starting pitcher becomes available, and if it's the right situation, Jackson could be attractive trade bait.
With the emergence of Kevin Siegrist as a lefty reliever in the Cardinals bullpen and Randy Choate holding down the lefty specialist role, the Cardinals can afford to part with Freeman.
Freeman pitched in 24 games in 2012 and posted a sub-par 5.40 ERA, but to his credit, he does have major league experience. Additionally, Freeman has had a solid 2013 for Triple-A Memphis.
He has a 2.72 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched and has held opponents to a .217 average. He is ready to help a major league club immediately and could fill the highly coveted lefty specialist or middle reliever role.
I think it's no secret that Marc Rzepczynski's days with the Cardinals are limited. While he has had success at the major league level in the past, he just hasn't had it together the last two seasons.
Rzepczyski has struggled with consistency and hasn't been able to get anyone out. Before his demotion this season, Zep had a 7.88 ERA and opposing batters were hitting .361 off him.
This looks like a classic case of a guy needing some new scenery. Perhaps Rzepczynski can regain his ability to throw strikes and get hitters out when coming into a game trying to hold a lead.
I suspect someone will take a flyer on him, and the Cardinals will be able to get at least a minor leaguer for him.
At one time, Fernando Salas looked like he would be the Cardinals closer for many years to come.
Some blown saves and home runs later, Salas hasn't been able to find a way to stick with the big league club for an entire season.
The good news is that he has been shutting down hitters in Triple-A Memphis and has thrown up a 0.77 ERA in his minor league time in 2013.
Salas would be an excellent pickup for someone needing a closer or late-inning guy. I have a feeling that the Cardinals are not ready to give up on Salas yet, so unless something super enticing comes along, John Mozeliak will likely hold on to Salas.