By Rob Rains
The Cardinals didn’t get the player many of the fans wanted and sent one of their most popular players out of town but John Mozeliak said the team got better with the moves they made before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
In their second trade in as many days, both for a lefthanded starter, the Cardinals dealt Harrison Bader to his hometown Yankees in exchange for Jordan Montgomery.
That move came a day after the Cardinals acquired Jose Quintana from the Pirates along with righthanded reliever Chris Stratton. Both Quintana and Montgomery will move into the rotation in the coming days.
“We explored a lot of different things,” said Mozeliak, the president of baseball operations. “It was a really busy few days for us but ultimately we do feel good about the pitching we acquired.
“Where we were from the middle of last week to where we are today we feel pretty good about it … We wanted to mitigate risk. The key for us was we valued what we saw in these guys.”
The cost to get Montgomery was Bader, currently on the injured list with plantar fasciitis a year after winning his first Gold Glove.
“It’s tough when you have to give up somebody like Harrison Bader,” Mozeliak said, “but we felt like with what we have seen with the emergence of Dylan Carlson we felt like that was a position of strength for us to try to fill a position that was weak for us on the pitching front.”
Montgomery, 29, has made 21 starts for the Yankees this year with a 3.69 ERA. Ironically his first start as a Cardinal likely will come this weekend – against the Yankees – at Busch Stadium.
It was the second year in a row that the Cardinals obtained two pitchers at the deadline, but Montgomery and Quintana profile to be better additions than the duo acquired last year, Jon Lester and J.A. Happ.
“We really just felt like we were getting inconsistency out of our rotation,” Mozeliak said. “We feel both will be solid contributors … We will be happy if they do just what they were doing.
“We went in with certain goals and we felt like we achieved them.”
Mozeliak said he would consider both Montgomery and Quintana capable of starting a playoff game. Who will move to the bullpen from the current rotation has not been decided, he said.
Montgomery also is signed through next season, while Quintana can become a free agent at the end of the year.
Still, neither was the player the fans coveted – Washington outfielder Juan Soto, who was traded to the Padres for an avalanche of prospects on Tuesday morning. The Cardinals did pursue Soto, and Mozeliak did not care to speculate on how close they were to a deal.
“Is is something we looked into? Yes,” Mozeliak said.
Mozeliak would not reveal who was included in the Cardinals’ final package to the Nationals, but he did want to mention that there was more to a deal not being completed than their decision not to include Carlson in the deal.
“I think we should clear the air a little bit on Carlson because he’s been getting beaten up on social media for something he has no control over,” Mozeliak said. “I don’t think we should focus on him because really he is by no means the reason why we did not get this done.
“You saw what they (the Nationals) got in return. It was better than what we were willing to do.”
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Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports