The St. Louis Cardinals are sure to be wheeling and dealing this offseason.
The 2013 World Series exposed some of their weaknesses—namely production from the bottom of the order and a thin bench. And it's been clear throughout the season that Pete Kozma is probably not a long-term answer at shortstop.
Luckily, they have one of the most enviable farm systems in all of baseball. But are there bigger names who may become trade bait to help fill in the blanks?
In no particular order, here are the five Cardinals who are expendable and would bring the most talent to St. Louis if traded. (You won't see Jon Jay on this list, because although it wouldn't be a big deal for the Cards to lose him, he wouldn't provide much return.)
Read on to find out which players may leave St. Louis before the 2014 season.
*All statistics are current as of November 2, 2013.*
With his veteran status on the Cardinals pitching staff, it's easy to forget Lynn is only 26 years old.
Although St. Louis fans know him affectionately as the starter who has a tendency to let the other team have a big inning, he has brought his team success. Just look at his win totals:
Of course, he seems to be a run support magnet, so these numbers may be a bit misleading when it comes to his actual talent. (His ERA in 2013 was 3.97.)
With plenty of other young arms up the Cardinals' sleeves, Lynn may be the perfect asset to help bring a nice shortstop to the Gateway City.
Miller was another 15-game winner in 2013 for the Cards, and he had a 3.06 ERA. But baseball fans may remember him most this year for a lack of action. He disappeared in the postseason, presumably in an effort to save his arm.
A highly touted prospect for long before his 2012 debut, Miller hasn't disappointed. And it's likely that he will stay in St. Louis, especially since the Cardinals committed to keeping him from being overworked at the end of the season.
However, like Lynn, he is another youngster who would reap big returns. The plethora of good pitching on the Cardinals staff makes Miller somewhat expendable.
The St. Louis infield is a bit crowded these days—at every position except shortstop.
The Cards moved natural third baseman Matt Carpenter to second base in order to get his bat in the lineup, and he responded by putting up numbers that have him in the NL MVP conversation. This leaves Wong and current third baseman David Freese to vie for a spot in the lineup.
Trading Wong would allow for Carpenter to remain at second, and the team could certainly get a lot for him.
He made his debut in mid-August of 2013 after raking in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, he hasn't quite adapted to the major leagues, hitting just .153 since getting called up. But a small sample size hardly proves what he can do in the future, and it's clear the kid has the kind of potential that any team would covet.
Speaking of that crowded infield...The other option here would be to trade Freese and put Carpenter back at third.
Freese will always be labeled "postseason hero" after 2011, but his magic certainly didn't make an appearance in October's World Series. Or in the regular season, for that matter. Look at 2013's decline:
2012: .293 BA, 20 HR
2013: .262 BA, 9 HR
That being said, one bad year doesn't mean Freese's time playing at All-Star caliber is over for good. Any team looking for a decent third baseman this offseason would have to think about taking an offer that involves Freese. And the Cards could benefit from his past success.
Perhaps the most shocking name on this list, Adams has been making himself known to baseball fans everywhere with his big bat. He has a penchant for late-inning home runs, and does well in the pinch hit position—he hit .314 in that spot in 2013.
Although having him strengthens the Cardinal bench, Adams deserves to be an everyday player. Unfortunately, he's blocked at first by "RBI Machine" Allen Craig. (Another instance of the crowded infield.) Craig could be moved to the outfield should space there become available—after all, Carlos Beltran may not be returning in free agency. Or, the team could in fact look at trading Adams.
He is a big weapon, so this move is probably a risky one. But for that same reason, he could be instrumental in filling some of the gaps in the Cardinals lineup.