St. Louis Cardinals Trade Rumors: Latest Updates, News and Reaction

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

St. Louis Cardinals Trade Rumors: Latest Updates, News and Reaction

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    Although the Milwaukee Brewers have controlled the National League Central for much of the 2014 MLB season to this point, the St. Louis Cardinals are still within striking distance. With the 2014 MLB trade deadline quickly approaching, ownership could do what it does best and make an impact move this month to help the team's postseason chances.

    As good as the team's offseason moves looked at the time, they haven't paid off—yet. Peter Bourjos, Jhonny Peralta and Mark Ellis have all been disappointing at the plate. Ellis' struggles combined with Kolten Wong's rough start has created a glaring hole at second base. Bourjos' slow start has allowed Jon Jay to get more playing time in center field. So far, Jay has taken advantage of the opportunity.

    Health has been an issue on the mound. The team has been forced to find a way to stay in contention without Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia. The rotation has still been as good as advertised, even with some injuries, so it's the bullpen that could be addressed at the deadline.

    The Cardinals are still in solid position to make the postseason. They do have some holes on their roster, which could end up costing them if they aren't active at the deadline. The team's ownership always seems to pull the trigger on good deals, though, so don't be surprised if the club enhances its postseason chances with a slick move at the deadline.

    Make sure to keep checking back here to see what rumors the Cardinals are involved in or what deals the team makes as the MLB trade deadline approaches.

Done Deals

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    July 26: SignedA.J. Pierzynski 

    July 30: Acquired RHP Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor-league OF James Ramsey

    July 31: Acquired RHP John Lackey, LHP Corey Littrell and cash from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for 1B/RF Allen Craig and RHP Joe Kelly

July 31: Cardinals Acquire John Lackey from the Boston Red sox

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    The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired John Lackey from the Boston Red Sox, as first reported by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Peter Gammons reported that the Cardinals will send first baseman/right fielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly to Boston. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported that Boston will also send $1.75 million to St. Louis, and's Alex Speier reported that the Cardinals will also receive southpaw Corey Littrell.

    Lackey was 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP with the Red Sox this season. Overall in his career, he is 149-114 with a 4.02 ERA.

    It will be a bit of a change for the right-hander. He has spent his entire 12-year career in the American League.

    Lackey missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Normally, Tommy John surgery scares teams off, but there isn't much to be afraid of for the Cardinals. Lackey posted a 3.52 ERA in his first season back from the injury last year and has posted a similar number again this season. He threw 189.1 innings last season, so his arm can handle a heavy workload.

    Besides his performance on the field, the Tommy John surgery put a team-friendly option in his contract. He is making $12.25 million this season, but that number drops dramatically next season because of the injury. The Cardinals have a $500,000 team option on Lackey for next season because the veteran missed significant time with an arm injury during his time in Boston. 

    St. Louis hasn't gone out and landed Cliff Lee or David Price, but it is doing a great job of adding solid pieces to an injury-depleted rotation. Justin Masterson has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, and Lackey only needs to be a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.

    Giving up a run producer in Craig and a young arm in Kelly may not have been easy, but the Cardinals can justify it. Now, there is room for Oscar Taveras to play in the outfield every day.

    Littrell was a fifth-round pick in the 2013 MLB draft. He was 5-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) in High-A this year.

    Now that the Cardinals have made a couple of moves to the rotation, they have put a lot of pressure on the Milwaukee Brewers.

July 30: Cardinals Acquire Justin Masterson from the Indians

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    The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians, according to Peter GammonsThe Plain Dealer's Zack Meisel reported that the Indians will receive minor-league outfielder James Ramsey.

    Given the Cardinals' injury problems, they were looking for a veteran arm to help stabilize the rotation. 

    Masterson is having a rough year. He is currently on a rehab assignment after going on the disabled list in early July with a knee injury, but his numbers this season weren't very good before he went on the disabled list.

    The 29-year-old was 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.653 WHIP through 19 starts this season. His walks per nine (5.1) are easily the most of his career, and his strikeouts per nine (8.5) are down this season.

    This was a year that nobody saw coming. Masterson was an All-Star in 2013, going 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings. He had thrown at least 200 innings in each of his previous two seasons.

    Cleveland was unable to reach an agreement with Masterson on an extension this past offseason. He is set to become a free agent after the 2014 season, so he could wind up being a rental player.

    It's a move that makes a lot of sense for St. Louis. Masterson, when healthy, has plenty of potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. He has thrown at least 193 innings and won at least 10 games in each of the past three seasons. The right-hander does a great job of making hitters swing and miss.

    Masterson may not be as proven as David Price or Jon Lester, but both of those pitchers would've cost a lot more in terms of prospects. For now, the Cardinals are getting a pitcher on his way back from an injury. It's a low-risk, high-reward deal for St. Louis. If he returns to his 2013 form, the Cardinals would be getting a steal.

Potential Trade Target: LHP Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Update: July 30 at 3 p.m. ET

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that even though the Cardinals acquired Justin Masterson on Wednesday, that does not mean that they are out of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.

    Lee, when healthy, has been one of the best pitchers in the majors for the past six years. He is a four-time All-Star and won the 2008 American League Cy Young award.

    This season, Lee is 4-5 with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.411 WHIP. He missed two months this year with an elbow injury, which has some teams worried about his future. Given his contract and age, the 35-year-old may be a risky addition for any team.

    Lee is making $25 million this season and is due another $25 million next season. There is a $27.5 million option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he throws 200 innings in 2015. If that option doesn't vest, there is a $12.5 million buyout. The Phillies are reportedly willing to eat some of the money, but any team that acquires him will likely have to pay the majority of the contract.

July 26: Cardinals Sign C A.J. Pierzynski

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    The St. Louis Cardinals have addressed their catching need by signing veteran A.J. Pierzynski, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold.

    Pierzynski hit .254 with four home runs and 10 doubles in 72 games with the Boston Red Sox. Although the numbers aren't bad, the team recently released him.

    The Cardinals are the sixth team Pierzynski has played for in his 17-career, including fourth in the past three seasons. He has spent the majority of his career in the American League, as he has only played for a National League team in 2004 (San Francisco Giants).

    The 37-year-old has some concerning splits. He hit .307 at Fenway Park but only .202 on the road. The left-handed hitter hit a very respectable .282 against right-handed pitchers compared to only .198 against southpaws.

    St. Louis is expected to be without Yadier Molina for the next six to 10 weeks, so adding a veteran catcher was a must. By signing Pierzynski, the club got a cheap option and didn't have to give up any players.

Potential Trade Candidate: CF Jon Jay

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    Given how many outfielders the Cardinals have, they could decide to trade Jay to fill other holes.

    KSTP TV's Darren Wolfson tweeted earlier this season that the Minnesota Twins are interested in the Cardinals center fielder. Jay's performance this season has likely impressed other teams, which could convince St. Louis to consider trading him.

    Jay has hoovered around .300 on the season lately, and his defense just adds another dimension to his game. Teams around the league that need outfield help would have to give him a serious look. At $3.25 million this season, he is also a cheap option for teams.

    St. Louis has plenty of options for the team in the outfield. The Cardinals have Allen Craig, Matt Holliday and Peter Bourjos. Should one of them get hurt or fail to produce, they have top prospect Oscar Taveras waiting to get an extended look in the majors.

    As the trade deadline approaches, the Cardinals may look to deal an outfielder in order to address an area of need, such as second base. If they do, Jay could be a hot name at the deadline. 

Cardinals Reportedly Looking for Starting Pitching Help

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    The Cardinals always seem to have a never-ending supply of arms, but at some point, injuries can be too much to handle for any team. Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reported that the Cardinals are talking to teams about starting pitching help.

    As of July 4, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia and Joe Kelly are all on the disabled list. Wacha and Garcia went on the disabled list at the same time with shoulder injuries. Adam Wainwright recently dealt with an elbow issue. With all of those injuries, the Cardinals are reportedly looking for a starting pitcher.

    Of course, with the team's farm system, it can pull off a trade for just about anyone it wants. 

Cardinals Open to Trading for Infield Bat

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    Going into the 2014 MLB season, the Cardinals were going to let Wong get a chance to be the team's regular second baseman. That moved Matt Carpenter from second to third. Now that Wong (.228 average) has struggled tremendously in the first half, the team is exploring its options.

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold wrote that the Cardinals are open to adding a bat at second base or third base. Should the team acquire a player for one of those spots, Carpenter would man the other position.

    St. Louis has plenty of capable bats in its lineup, but so far this season, those bats aren't producing. At the end of June, the Cardinals ranked 27th in all of baseball in runs scored. That's not what Cardinals fans have come to expect in recent years.

    Part of the reason for the lack of offense is how mightily the team's second basemen have struggled. The Cardinals' second basemen have the third-worst average (.204) and third-worst on-base percentage (.274) in all of baseball. Their second basemen have combined to hit only one home run this season, which is the second-worst mark in the majors.

    The lack of production out of its second basemen isn't St. Louis' only problem, but it certainly is the most glaring hole.