Trade rumors begin to swirl as spring training nears completion in Major League Baseball. As Opening Day draws near, teams begin to identify their needs as well as their surpluses. The St. Louis Cardinals, who have found themselves actively involved in the market for shortstops around the league over the last few seasons, suddenly find themselves with a player to offer to the market.
Pete Kozma is the odd man out in St. Louis, and general manager John Mozeliak hopes to benefit from that.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, the Cardinals have been shopping Kozma around the league, letting other teams know that the young shortstop is available:
The reasons for trade rumors surrounding Kozma are obvious. The Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta during the offseason, Daniel Descalso offers a backup option who can play multiple positions and the team needs the room on the 40-man roster.
All of this could lead to a trade for a low-level prospect in exchange for the man who played 143 games for the Cardinals last season.
Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out another need that the Cardinals may wish to address with the rumored trade of Kozma based on the recent reassignment of relief pitcher Tyler Lyons.
"The Cardinals can option Kozma or keep him as Peralta’s backup. Having optioned Tyler Lyons to Memphis on Wednesday, the club could survey the market for long relief. No obvious internal candidate currently exists," according to Strauss.
That option would not alleviate the roster restriction that exists but is a fair trade rumor as it fulfills both the team's need and surplus at the same time. The argument against a long reliever in return is based more on the value that Kozma holds.
Ben Humphrey of Viva El Birdos breaks down the value of Kozma on the market and what fans should expect in return. Ultimately, Humphrey comes to the conclusion that a trade involving Kozma would likely resemble the trade of Brendan Ryan in December of 2010. In that trade, the Cardinals received relief pitcher Maikel Cleto, a low-level prospect with a lively arm.
The Cardinals will do their due diligence in shopping Kozma around to see if there is a trade that makes sense. If the past can tell us anything, it is that Mozeliak will only move Kozma if he feels that the Cardinals will clearly benefit from the return.
Meanwhile, the trade rumors will continue to circulate.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.