BREAKING NEWS: C.C. Sabathia Traded to St. Louis

Joel KochSenior Analyst IJune 28, 2008

Has this happened? No, not really, but it definitely could happen sometime in the next month. Lets face it: the Cardinals need a reliable ace in the rotation. Adam Wainwright's finger may linger longer than hoped and Chris Carpenter may not come back to the rotation for a while, if not until 2009. C.C. Sabathia provides that cushion for the current Cardinals rotation and adds a power arm for the playoff push.

The Cleveland Indians have not said that they are going to trade Sabathia immediately, but everyone knows it's only a matter of time. Sabathia wants Barry Zito and Johan Santanna type money and the Indians just don't have it.

Do the Cardinals? Amazingly, yes.

The Cardinals do have enough money to pull of this trade and sign Sabathia long term. Lets look at the proposed deal and how it breaks down for both sides, and then I'll show you some financials.

Cleveland Indians receive: RHP Anthony Reyes, RHP Brad Thompson, RHP Jess Todd, RHP Adam Ottavino, C Bryan Anderson, 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir, OF Shane Robinson.

St. Louis Cardinals receive:
LHP C.C. Sabathia, 3B Wes Hodges, SS Josh Rodriguez.

Ok, lets break this down from the Indians side of view.

Reyes is in need of a change of scenery. He and Tony LaRussa obviously don't click and Reyes doesn't believe in Dave Duncan's methods. Reyes still has a great arm and a tremendous amount of upside. He could flourish in Cleveland.

Thompson is somewhat the same way. He believes in Duncan's methods and LaRussa likes him. Thompson is just having problems with people out performing him in the pen, and he isn't quite up to standards yet for the rotation. He too could flourish in Cleveland with the right tutelage.

Jess Todd is climbing the minor league ladder quickly and throws gas. He is a dominant pitcher and could be a very good starter in 2010 and lights out in 2011. Add in that he'd be pitching in Cleveland where young pitchers reach their prime. Plus, he can throw to Victor Martinez, a good game caller.

Then, of course, Martinez can have a quality backup catcher to give his reins to when he needs a day off in Anderson. Anderson can stroke the ball. He hasn't found his power swing at Memphis yet, but he's still hitting the ball with authority. He's 21-years-old and has a tremendous amount of upside with the bat and glove. He's made only five errors behind the plate in the 35 games that he's played at Memphis.

Ottavino is a first round draft pick from 2006 and is pitching well. No, he's not lights out and projects to be a back end starter for his career, but he's still quite good. Think of a Cleveland rotation in 2011 that looks like this: Fausto Carmona, Aaron Laffey, Adam Miller, Cliff Lee, Jess Todd, Adam Ottavino, Anthony Reyes.

There's some trade bait there to land a bat if needed, or some bullpen arms. Maybe even some prospects if some are approaching free agency.

Allen Craig and Shane Robinson are two very good hitters and decent fielders. Craig doesn't project as high as Hodges does, but he's still a quality corner infielder. With the right tutelage, he could become an above average fielder and hitter. Robinson is a good fielder and has come on with the bat. He could fit into the right field slot for the Indians in the near future.

**Craig has been taken out and Hoffpauir has been added in. Hoffpauir is a left-handed hitting second baseman. He plays exceptional defense, is very good offensively and is ready for a call up to the Majors this season and next. He is 25 years old, but he could be the Indians starting second baseman for years to come.

Ok, the Cardinals bright side is obvious. Not only do they land a Cy Young Award winner to front their injury-riddled rotation, but also they can sign him long term and match with Wainwright and Carpenter. A rotation that has Sabathia, Carpenter and Wainwright at the front is a scary thought.

Plus, if the Cardinals can't lock Sabathia up long term, they can get two draft picks for him.

Hodges is a very good third base prospect and could flourish in St. Louis. With Troy Glaus up for free agency at the end of 2009, Hodges could take the reins and keep them long term. He could match up well with Rasmus, Jay and Pujols.

It’s the same with Rodriguez. He could join the shortstop group of prospects the Cardinals have, as they hope one of them become an All-Star caliber player at the Major Leagues.

Ok, now money. Money is the factor that brings every trade down. How much does one team give the other? Well, the Indians and Cardinals can make this easy. The Indians pickup half of what's left to Sabathia and the Cardinals can take the other half.

Then, the Cardinals can take two roads. With the minor league system producing dividends, they can replace all lost pieces. The Cardinals are shedding almost $20 million in payroll, and by replacing all their lost players with minor league players; the Cardinals won't have to worry about adding a ton of payroll.

So, can they sign Sabathia long term and keep the payroll low? Of course!

As I said, if the Cardinals can't get something worked out with Sabathia, they can land two draft picks for the 2009 draft and restock the minor league system. So, yes, you can say they traded away seven prospects for a rent-a-player. They land two prospects with Sabathia, so that drops the number from seven to five. Then, throw in the draft picks, and the number drops again from five to three. That works for the Cardinals.

So, there's a possible Sabathia trade. There have been a lot of rumors floating around, so here's one more to add to that long and growing list.