The St. Louis Cardinals haven’t done much this offseason, but the decisions they’ve made have strengthened the core of a team that looks destined to be a World Series contender for future seasons. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to organize a successful work off-season.
The Cardinals’ two biggest moves have been signing star receiver Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million deal and re-signing longtime ace Adam Wainwright to return for a final season in 2023. The retirements of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina certainly loom large, as does Jose Quintana’s departure to free agency, but this team is well placed.
Of course, no team is perfect, and it makes sense that the Cardinals will continue to explore ways to improve their roster this offseason. One potential avenue would be through the commercial market, as there are a few big name players that might be available. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the perfect trade the Cardinals could make this offseason and see why it would benefit them so much.
Cardinals perfect off-season swap
Acquire Pablo Lopez from the Marlins
The Cardinals knew their rotation needed work midway through the 2022 campaign, which led them to strike a pair of deals for Quintana and Jordan Montgomery at the trade deadline. Those two additions propelled the Cardinals to the top of the National League Central, and while they died out in the playoffs, it’s clear they managed to shore up their greatest need with those moves.
In a way, the Cardinals didn’t really need to keep Quintana. The front of their rotation is pretty solid, with Miles Mikolas leading alongside Wainwright and Montgomery. Dakota Hudson and Steven Matz complete things, although they can certainly be upgraded. That brings us to Pablo Lopez, who is one of the best pitchers on the market this offseason.
Lost in the greatness that came from Sandy Alcantara’s Cy Young campaign, Lopez established himself as a reliable number two starter who gave the Miami Marlins a devious good pair leading their rotation. But the Marlins have come up with trade offers for Lopez again this offseason, and the Cardinals seem like the perfect team to swoop in and seal a deal for him.
Lopez is coming off the most complete season of his career in 2022 (10-10, 3.75 ERA, 174K, 1.17 WHIP) and has proven he can stay healthy all season long. complete. Considering he hadn’t made more than 21 starts in a season prior to 2022, when he had 32 starts, that’s a big deal for teams watching Lopez.
There’s a lot to love about Lopez when considering a potential trade for him. First of all, he’s still quite young, as he’ll only be 27 at the start of the 2023 season, so he’s not even at his peak yet. He’s also under team control for two more seasons, which means he’ll be a steal until he reaches free agency after the 2024 season.
Although the Cardinals have a decent rotation as-is, they could definitely use another high-end starter in Lopez. They don’t have a true ace, as Mikolas, Wainwright and Montgomery loom best as second or third starters. Lopez isn’t necessarily an ace himself, but when he’s at the top of his game, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game.
Lopez would certainly be an expensive addition, but given his quality early in his career and the fact that he still has plenty of room to grow, he would be a worthwhile investment. The Cardinals want to keep progressing to become a true World Series contender, and with other teams like the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies loading up, they’re going to have to be aggressive.
Adding Lopez would give the Cardinals a very deep rotation, while allowing Matz or Hudson to hang around as an extra starter when someone inevitably gets hurt. Depth isn’t important until you need it, and you always need it at some point during a 162-game season.
The Cardinals haven’t done much this offseason, but that doesn’t really matter because their roster is in good shape. But in order to put their roster in a great position, they could pull off that big shot for Lopez and prove their mean business in the NL, which is full of suitors. It may cost them dearly, but clearly making a trade for Lopez would be the perfect move for the Cardinals to make this offseason.