With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the St. Louis Cardinals are in need of some help if they want to stave off the upstart Cincinnati Reds. The following players could be great fits and propel them to the playoffs.
Let's start with the obvious. Every Cardinal fan, and many baseball fans as well, have heard the rumors.
Oswalt and the Cardinals have a mutual interest in each other. The current Astros pitcher wants a chance to contend for a World Series ring, something the 39-57 Astros won't do this year. He also has stated publicly that he would be willing to do whatever it takes to join the Redbirds, namely restructuring his contract.
The Cardinals need a pitcher. After Chris Carpenter, Cy Young contender Adam Wainwright, and Rookie of the Year candidate Jaime Garcia, the Cards are struggling to find a consistent starter with both Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny on the DL.
In order to make this happen, the Cardinals have to find a solution to an age old baseball thought.
How do they convince the Astros to trade within the division? They are reportedly looking for three major league-ready players in return. The Cards could probably get Oswalt if they package OF Jon Jay or SS Brendan Ryan with another prospect, possibly SP Shelby Miller or C Robert Stock, a deal could happen.
I, for one, would love to see the Cardinals acquire their former No. 1 pitching prospect.
With that said, Haren is probably a long shot unless the Diamondbacks pick up a significant portion of his contract. For the 2011 season, the Cardinals have already committed $39.2 million to Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, and Penny.
Haren is scheduled to make $12.75 million. If the Cards acquire Haren without the D'Backs covering some of the cost, they would be spending over half of their operating budget on the starting rotation.
Westbrook is by far the least talented, but he may end up being the best fit for the Cards.
Westbrook would not require a ton of talent to get. The Indians were reportedly willing to move him to the Mets recently for a mid-level prospect, provided the Mets picked up the the remaining salary left on Westbrook's contract, which is just over $6.5 million.
This would seemingly be the perfect fit for the Cardinals. GM John Mozeliak has said that he does not want to add a rental player if he has to sell the farm. Brendan Ryan would probably get this done.
The Cardinals have been in search of an everyday shortstop ever since David Eckstein left via free agency.
Stephen Drew could be that answer. Drew is under contract for two more years and has a solid bat at a position that isn't filled with pop. He is also an above average defender.
After looking over their roster, I would assume the D'Backs would be looking for a young pitcher in return. Unless the Cardinals find a way to trade for both Haren and Drew, I doubt that they would be willing to part with Shelby Miller for Drew alone.
The Diamondbacks could be interested in Jon Jay as well since Geraldo Parra has failed to impress.
If the Cards could pull off a Shelby Miller, Jon Jay, and Ryan Ludwick for Haren and Drew deal with the Diamondbacks agreeing take on some of Haren's salary, I would be in heaven.
Uggla isn't on the trading block officially but the Marlins have been listening to offers for him for over a year. He has been a consistent power hitter for the Marlins and is under contract through next season.
As usual, the Marlins would presumably be looking for young talent in return. Brendan Ryan or David Freese might entice the Marlins to move Uggla but that may be wishful thinking on my part.
Here we come to the third Arizona Diamondback on this list. Johnson has had one heck of a season for Arizona and he, like Uggla, is not officially on the block but it has been reported that the D'backs have been listening to offers in order to maximize his value.
There have been whispers that the Cardinals and the D'Backs had discussed a Kelly Johnson for Ryan Ludwick swap. I would be fine with this.
Both Ludwick and Johnson are in arbitration years and both have been streaky hitters. Johnson had two pretty good seasons with the Atlanta Braves, followed by a sub-par campaign last season. After a 37 homer, 113 RBI season two years ago, Ludwick's numbers dipped last season and his struggles have continued into this season.
I think Johnson could be an important piece of the puzzle should the Cardinals be able to nab him.
Ahh the ultimate rental player.
The Cards would love to add some power in the infield and Bautista has been on fire this season, leading Major League Baseball with 26 taters. He is also a relatively versatile defender, possessing the ability to play both third base and right field.
The problem with this fit is that Bautista's value is grossly inflated right now. Couple his power numbers with the fact that he only has approximately $1 million dollars remaining this season allows the Blue Jays to have a high asking price, maybe too high for the Cardinals.
Out of all of the possible scenarios listed, this is my least favorite.
Out of all of the possibilities listed, I would love it if the Cardinals could get a combination of Oswalt or Haren and Drew. So if this deal or deals were to happen, let's take a look at what the lineup and rotation would look like.
In the Oswalt deal, the Cardinals most likely will have to give up Shelby Miller and Brendan Ryan to make it happen.
If they can fulfill my aforementioned dream scenario and make the Haren and Drew for Miller, Jay and Ludwick trade the lineup could look something like this:
1 - 3B David Freese (.361 on base percentage)
2 - SS Stephen Drew
3 - 1B Albert Pujols
4 - LF Matt Holliday
5- CF Colby Rasmus
6 - C Yadier Molina
7 - 2B Brendan Ryan
8 - SP
9 - RF Randy Winn/Skip Schumaker
1 - Chris Carpenter
2 - Adam Wainwright
3 - Roy Oswalt/Dan Haren
4 - Jaime Garcia
5 - Kyle Lohse
If either Oswalt or Haren and Drew join the Redbirds, the Cardinals could make a run at the best record in the National League.