As Cardinals look for ‘Let’s make a deal’ partners, here are names that could be on their wish list

By Rob Rains

The best advice for baseball fans this time of year is usually to ignore all of the rumors and try to do something else until after the trading deadine, coming up on Tuesday, has passed.

At that time it will be OK to come up for air and survey the results – who did your team trade, and what did they get in return?

It’s admittedly hard for Cardinals fans to do that, especially this year, when the team is in the unusual position of being a seller instead of a buyer. In at least one way, however, the team is buying – for 2024 and beyond, just not for the rest of this lost season.

With that in mind, knowing there is a strong probability that the Cardinals will be making multiple trades, here is a look at the teams they likely will be talking to the most – with a look at one or two prospects from those teams who should be at the top of the Cardinals’ wish list: (Teams are listed alphabetically, with all statistics through games of Wednesday)

Arizona – Blake Walston. A 6-foot-5 lefthander, Walston was the 26th overall pick in the 2019 draft. He just turned 22 in June and is in his first season at Triple A, where his numbers are off from a big 2022 with his strikeouts down and his walks up. In Double A last year Walston had 110 strikeouts and just 39 walks in 106 innings.

Baltimore – Cade Povich. The Orioles are loaded with position player prospects but Povich, a 23-year-old lefthander, is their best pitcher who might be available in a deal. Pitching at Double A, Povich has 118 strikeouts in 81 innings after striking out 148 in 114 innings last year. He was drafted by the Twins in 2021 and traded to Baltimore as part of a deadline deal last year.

Cleveland – Gavin Williams. A 24-year-old righthander, Williams was the Indians first-round pick in 2021 out of East Carolina. He made his MLB debut on June 21 and in seven starts has 31 strikeouts in 37 innings. Before his promotion he had 81 strikeouts in 60 innings combined between Double A and Triple A. He is one of three rookies in the rotation for the Indians, who as of Thursday were two games behind Minnesota in the AL Central.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Bobby Miller or Emmet Sheehan. The Dodgers called up both Miller and Sheehan from the minors this year and both are now in their rotation, with Miller scheduled to start on Friday night and Sheehan on Saturday. Miller, a 24-year-old righthander, has made 10 starts for LA with 53 strikeouts in 54 innings. Sheehan, a 23-year-old righthander, has started six games after being promoted from Double A, where he had 88 strikeouts in 53 innings. As with the Indians, the Dodgers might not want to rely on two rookie starters in the middle of a pennant race.

Miami – Max Meyer or Dax Fulton. The top two pitching prospects on the Marlins are in different stages of recovery from elbow surgery and neither is expected to pitch this year. Meyer, 24, was the third overall pick in the 2020 draft and before his surgery last fall had 65 strikeouts in 58 innings in Triple A. Fulton, a 21-year-old lefthander, had surgery in June and was pitching in Double A. Combined at Class A and Double A in 2022 he had 150 strikeouts in 118 innings. The good news is that recovery from elbow surgery is much more likely than from shoulder surgery.

New York Yankees – Richard Fitts or Chase Hampton. The Yankees have several top pitching prospects in Triple A and Double A with both Fitts, a 23-year-old righthander out of Auburn, and Hampton, 21, part of their rotation in Double A. Fitts has 108 strikeouts and 24 walks in 100 innings while Hampton, in his first full pro season after being drafted from Texas Tech, started the year in Class A but has made seven starts in Double A with 48 strikeouts in 39 innings. Combined at the two levels, he has 125 strikeouts in 86 innings with only 30 walks.

Philadelphia – Mick Abel. The top pitching prospect for the Phillies, Andrew Painter, is out with an elbow injury requiring surgery. Abel, a 21-year-old righthander, is next on their list. A first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Abel has been in their Double A rotation all season, making 14 starts with 73 strikeouts in 65 innings. Between Class A and Double A in 2022 he had 130 strikeouts in 108 innings.

Seattle – Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo. The Mariners have a loaded group of young pitchers with righthanders Miller and Woo making their major-league debuts this season. Miller, 24, has started 14 games with 71 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 75 innings. A Texas A & M product, Miller was promoted after only four starts in Double A. Woo, 23, has made nine starts with 54 strikeouts in 44 innings after he also was promoted from Double A. The Mariners are 4 ½ games out of a wild-card spot in the AL playoff race.

Tampa Bay – Shane Baz. The 24-year-old righthander is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. Before he was injured Baz had started nine games for the Rays and had 48 strikeouts and 12 walks in 40 innings. A former first-round draft pick by the Pirates, Baz had 298 career strikeouts in 249 minor-league innings. The Rays have had a multitude of injuries to starting pitchers this season, leaving holes in their rotation. They are leading the wild-card race in the American League but are 1 ½ games behind the Orioles in the AL East.

Texas – Owen White. The Rangers have a two-game lead over the Astros in the AL West. A 23-year-old righthander, White has made two relief appearances for Texas, covering four innings. Pitching at both Double A and Triple A, White had a combined 57 strikeouts in 72 innings and allowed only 51 hits. He had 104 strikeouts in 80 minor-league innings in 2022.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Photo of Jack Flaherty by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports

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