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A Blue Jays-Cardinals trade that could work for both sides

Jul 27, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio (8) gets out of the way as first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) tags out St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Dylan Carlson (3) in a run down in the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 27, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio (8) gets out of the way as first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) tags out St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Dylan Carlson (3) in a run down in the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays could use a left-handed bat, and the Cardinals need a catcher. Could there be a trade match between the two clubs this winter?

Since I can’t help myself, I’m already thinking about ways the Blue Jays could get better this offseason, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve already written a few articles about some general thoughts about the work that Ross Atkins and the front office have ahead of them, including one where I talked about what I view as an offseason checklist. Today, I’d like to talk about how to take care of a few of those items with a massive trade idea if the Blue Jays can match up with the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason.

The Cardinals had a strong year led by the MVP-calibre performances of veterans like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, and with the latter already opting in to the last five years and 144 million on his contract, you know they plan to try and contend in the immediate term. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Cards made an aggressive move to address the hole that Yadiier Molina will leave on the roster with his retirement, and the Blue Jays have a few backstops that could fit the description.

Admittedly, the trade idea that I’m going to propose is a little too clean for most MLB deals. It’s rare that you can swap two big league players for two others, especially when they’re all young and talented. However, we know from Blue Jays’ franchise history that it’s certainly possible, and this would represent a lower-key, modern day version of the Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar swap that happened back in December of 1990.

Anyway, remember this is mostly for fun, so don’t come looking for me if you don’t like this idea.

Blue Jays get:

  • Tommy Edman
  • Dylan Carlson

Cardinals get:

  • Gabriel Moreno
  • Santiago Espinal

If you’re already scoffing at the proposal, allow me to do my best to break down why I think it actually works for both sides, even if I’ll admit that it would be a long shot to have a tidy little two for two deal like this.

For the Blue Jays it would be a major win, as they’d be turning their enviable catching depth into a significant boost in two other areas of the roster. Edman is a capable middle infielder who can line up at either shortstop or second base, and as a switch-hitter with a bunch of speed he would be a capable option to hit near the top of the lineup to help break up the relentless right-handed attack. I don’t think the Cardinals are going to be wild about letting go of the 27 year old, but I do believe that they’ll appreciate the value of top-tier catching as much as anyone, and you have to give up something to get a player like Moreno back in return. Putting Espinal in the deal helps soften the middle-field blow though, and he’ll have four years of arbitration eligibility compared to Edman’s three years left of contract control as well.

As for Carlson, the 24 year old didn’t have a great 2022 campaign, otherwise this trade idea might seem a little more far-fetched. He ended up slashing .236/.316/.380 across 128 games played, with injuries playing a part early in the year. If we look at what he did during his first full MLB season in 2021 when he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, that’s when it’s easier to see the appeal of the former first round pick when he was good for 3.8 bWAR. Of course, his abilities as a centre fielder are what the Blue Jays would really be interested in to help some of the pressure off of Springer, and his ability to switch-hit would be another added bonus, especially if he can slash .266/.343/.437 again with some pop as he did in 2021.

By now you might be wondering if the Cardinals would actually be interested in something like this. When I run this trade idea through baseballtradevalues.com, it comes out looking pretty much square here, with Moreno identified as the most valuable player:

That said, I will admit that there might be a bit of bias going on here, and that trading both Edman and Carlson might be more than the Cardinals are willing to do. On the Blue Jays’ side, I’d certainly be willing to throw in another minor leaguer or two in order to get the deal across the line, and maybe someone like a Spencer Horwitz type would be enough to bridge the gap. However, we also can’t discount the value of the Cardinals getting another franchise worthy catcher in Moreno in this trade either, and I’m confident it would at least tempt them as they make plans beyond the Molina era in St. Louis. However, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they wanted to swap Kirk in for Moreno in a deal with a framework like this either, or maybe even ask for a bigger third piece.

For the Blue Jays, it could give their lineup a look that goes something like this:

1- George Springer (RF)
2- Tommy Edman (2B)
3- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)
4- Bo Bichette (SS)
5- Alejandro Kirk (DH)
6- Matt Chapman (3B)
7- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
8- Dylan Carlson (CF)
9- Danny Jansen (C)

As I’ve written about in a few other articles this offseason, I expect that at least one of Teoscar Hernandez or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will be traded over the winter mostly due to their pending free agencies after the 2023 season is over, so don’t think I’ve forgotten them here, or guys like Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the last four names had appeal to the Cardinals as well, which could give trade talks several different paths to go down.

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With three catchers that are more than talented enough to be #1 options on most big league rosters, the Blue Jays are in a strong position again this offseason, at least as far as the trade market is concerned. I’m sure the Cardinals aren’t the only team that could come calling, but if they do, there might be more than a few trade ideas to discuss between the two clubs.

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