by John Viril—
With a mere nine days until the trade deadline, teams need to explore trade possibilities—even if they are on the “bubble” whether they wish to be buyers or sellers.
If the Royals finally decide to deal pitcher Ervin Santana, the St. Louis Cardinals would be a great match.
The Cardinals could use another starter. They are locked in a dogfight in the N.L Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates. St. Louis has yet another team with the potential to win it all. But, you don’t want to risk that title shot by getting mired in a wild-card play-in game.
With Matt Garza now traded to the Rangers, Ervin Santana becomes the highest quality arm on the market. In fact, one could argue that Santana is pitching better than Garza, since his 3.18 ERA (vs. Garza’s 3.17) came against a league with a DH. Santana’s ERA+ stands at 130—slightly better than Garza’s 125. The Garza deal has also set the market for Santana: Mike Olt was rated a top 30 prospect in MLB by most pundits prior to the season while Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards are ranked somewhere in the top 150.
The Cardinals have the organizational depth to make this deal. 2011 1st round pick 2B Kolten Wong is ready for a major league callup (.301/.359/.464)—yet he’s blocked by the All-Star performance of 2B Matt Carpenter in St. Louis. This is a perfect match for Kansas City’s needs. 2B has been a black hole in the Royals lineup all season. While Wong’s PCL batting numbers look very much like 26-year-old Johnny Giavotella, he’s not considered an “offense first” second baseman. Wong is said by scouts to be a slick fielder. He’s a better overall prospect than Gio, whom the Royals have clearly lost faith in anyway.
To round out the deal, the Cardinals could add a pitcher like 25-year-old Tyler Lyons (3.26 in 80 IP and a 8.0 K/9 in AAA), who was rated a C+ prospect by John Sickels, and perhaps OF Anthony Garcia (.755 OPS in A+).
Not only does such a deal help the Kansas City Royals in the future, they might even be better off for their current stretch run—IF Danny Duffy can move into Santana’s spot in the rotation and Wong solidify 2B. Heck, maybe the Royals could throw in another bullpen arm like Louis Coleman or Luke Hochevar and upgrade Lyons to Tyrell Jenkins or John Gast. Gast could displace the struggling Wade Davis back to the pen.
Such a deal would serve both teams’ interests.