After Trading Jaime Garcia for Prospects, It’s Time for the Cardinals to Make a Big Move

Well played, John Mozeliak.

The GM was correct; there was a trade market for Jaime Garcia. If anything the Cardinals received more of a return than I anticipated.

jaime garcia 7
Garcia logged 10 quality starts in 2016.

Not that the Atlanta Braves handed over elite prospects to obtain the eccentric left; as anyone of sound mind understands there was no chance of that.

Garcia is an old 30. His career has been sidetracked by frequent arm injuries, interruptions. He was mostly terrible in 2016. And he can become a free agent after the 2017 season.

Among MLB starters who made at least 30 starts in 2016 only Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson had fewer quality starts (6) than Garcia’s 10 last season.

And as I’ve written before: in Cardinals franchise history, there are 198 instances of a pitcher turning in 30 starts in a season — and none had fewer than 10 quality starts. This was one of worst seasons, ever, by a Cards’ rotation regular. Garcia had no consistency.

I was skeptical of a trade market forming for Garcia. Obviously Mozeliak knew otherwise. When I first heard that a trade had gone down, I thought the Cardinals would be fortunate to get a decent prospect (with some upside) and a throw-in prospect.

Instead, Mozeliak received right-handed pitchers John Gant and Chris Ellis. ranked both 24-year-olds among the top 21 prospects in the Braves’ farm system. Gant already has pitched in the big leagues and could find his way to the St. Louis bullpen in 2017. And the Cardinals really like Ellis’ potential. He’s got some Lance Lynn in him — including the Ole Miss connection. already has placed Ellis (No. 24) and Gant (No. 27) on the Cardinals’ top-30 prospects list.

Here’s on Ellis: “(He) has the size, strength and repertoire to succeed (in the majors) as a starter, with the upside perhaps as a No. 4. If that doesn’t work, his fastball-slider combination would play up more in relief, a role he had in his first two years at the University of Mississippi.”

The Braves’ throw-in was Class A second baseman Luke Dykstra. Unless some power surfaces during his development, there isn’t much to get excited about.

Perhaps some of the delusional among us were expecting Dansby Swanson coming over from Atlanta, but I think Mozeliak got a solid return for a diminished Garcia.

Not that you can ever have too much pitching, but the starting-rotation depth is sufficient:

Adam Wainwright

Carlos Martinez

Lance Lynn

Mike Leake

Alex Reyes

Michael Wacha

Luke Weaver

Trevor Rosenthal (trial basis in spring training)

Marco Gonzales

John Gant  (maybe.)

Mike Mayers (maybe.)

And more of young-gun prospects are on the way.

And by adding Ellis and Gant the Cardinals deepened their pool of young pitching and that could make them more comfortable about trading young pitching talent to get a center fielder, or left fielder.

The added plus is removing Garcia’s $12 million salary from the payroll. The Cardinals had already trimmed $17 million (Matt Holliday), Brandon Moss ($8.25 million).

Even with the signing of free-agent lefty reliever Brett Cecil to a four-year contract that will pay him $7.75 million in 2015, the Cardinals have carved out a nice bit of payroll space in preparation of going shopping.

That payroll, $145 million last season, probably sits at around $120 million right now — after factoring in the expected salary increases for arbitration-years Cardinals that include Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, Matt Adams, Kevin Siegrist … and possibly Seth Maness, if the Cards tender Maness a contract offer. He’s coming off elbow surgery, so …

So what’s next?

– Do the Cardinals (as expected) make a run at free-agent center fielder Dexter Fowler, age 31? I question if Fowler, who has other offers and options, wants to play for Mike Matheny. So how much would the Cardinals be willing to overpay?

— Do the Cards (as rumored) pursue free-agent third baseman Justin Turner, age 32? Turner went from being a backup infielder and MLB journeyman to developing into a strong and productive hitter during three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  By the way, here’s a headline from a piece written for the Fox Sports site in 2015: “Justin Turner a different hitter since working with Marlon Byrd.”

(Well. OK, then.)

— Do the Cardinals part with premium pitching prospects to address their outfield concerns?

— Do they move more salary by trading a veteran like, say, Jhonny Peralta, as prelude to a larger trade?

— Are the Cardinals really, really set on Aledmys Diaz at shortstop or will they move him to another defensive spot and explore the shortstop trade market?

— Do they get involved in the trade bidding for Chicago White Sox ace lefty Chris Sale?

Mozeliak has money to spend. His Garcia gambit worked. He has roster spots to fill, and a team to upgrade.

The baseball winter meetings begin Monday near Washington D.C.

It’s time for the Cards to make something happen.

Something big.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend…


More: Cardinals Get More Than Expected in Garcia Trade

  • Rich Rauch

    Gant and Dykstra… related to Ron and Len? I’ll have to look that up. … Seems the answer is “No” and “Yes” (son and father).

    • kevin schweiss

      Already has

  • DeWitt will continue to pocket most of the millions, and if you don’t like that, he says fk you.

    • M W


  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    Letting Maness go is just goofy. Got nothing for him.

    “Maness record as a Cardinal: For his career, the 28-year-old Maness, who made all 244 of his big-league appearances in relief, had a 17-10 record with a 3.19 earned run average. In 17 post-season appearances, he was 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA. In 2016, Maness was 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA.”

    Trading Garcia made a lot of sense. I too was surprised to see how much MO was able to get for him. Nice trade.

    But still – letting Maness go FOR NOTHING is goofy (I’m saying goofy but thinking of a word that’s better left unsaid).

    • Tom L

      Overuse by Matheny burnt Maness’ arm to a crisp.
      Apparently no other team would make an offer for him.

      • JDinSTL

        Siegrist will be next. Matheny will destroy all his “trusted relievers”

    • Terry Ryno

      I don’t know Lawrence, I agree letting Maness go seemed goofy at first. Now I’m not so sure. They can still resign him later, possibly at a lower price. I doubt very many teams will offer him much until he can show he is healthy and ready to go.

    • kevin schweiss

      Mo is trying to clear the room of “Mathenys guys”, so Matheny can manage without bias.

  • ken

    i’m not one who has made a point or habit of complaining about the cards’ failure to make spectacular free-agent signings…but i would give my stamp of approval for going hard after getting chris sale. i could go along with the cards parting ways with pretty much anyone in their system/on their roster to accomplish that, save for reyes and martinez.

    as far as fowler is concerned…i would much rather the cards returned wolverine–er, randall grichuk–to center field than bring in fowler.

  • Todd Wilhelm

    Garcia was good for one or two gems per year. I am hoping he doesn’t have them against the Cardinals this year.

    He was mostly disappointing. Loads of potential, but hampered by injuries and a lack of mental toughness. That Mo was able to get anything for him is surprising. Best of luck in Atlanta to him.

  • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

    I am curious as to why you question if Fowler wants to play for Mike Matheny? Is there some inside story here? Jason Heyward feedback to Fowler, managerial style, clubhouse norms, or?

    • badgerboy23

      How about Heyward AND Lackey? Lackey was no fan of MM.

      • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

        I thought about Lackey after I wrote the comment, but in fact Bernie didn’t mention him. I don’t know what Lackey thinks about Matheny either, although I note what you wrote above about major discussion outside STL about Fowler not wanting to play for MM.

  • M W

    The Cards starting rotation depth is not sufficient. It’s full of mediocre and question marks. They need to go all in on Sale.

    • Jeff Behrens

      The Sox are looking for a Shelby Miller plus deal, which means Reyes and two more top 10 prospects, plus some ML ready talent. The price may come down, but they asked the Astros for Alex Bregmen and the Red Sox for Yoan Mancado plus alot more. Expensive.

  • Rick Byrnes

    I agree with this 100% DO SOMETHING MO!! Right now we are a lesser team than last year with Moss and Holliday gone. Who are they fielding to make up those runs..

  • Jeff Behrens

    As hard as this is, the Cardinals are not going to catch up with the Cubs in 2017. But they do have the talent, if the defense improves, to make up 5-7 games and make the playoffs. This free agent class stinks. 2017 is much much better. The Cardinals need a cornerstone player, and the market this season is against them. Add a good CF to improve the defense, and add an infield glove who can play SS if Diaz hasn’t improved defensively. That should help Wainwright and Leake. Keep the powder dry for next winter, that is the time to make a splash. Nothing we can do this winter short of getting Trout, Sale, and signing Jensen will help us catch the Cubs. But we can gain significant ground on them if we improve the defense.

  • geoff

    Bernie, that little throw away comment about Fowler not wanting to play for Matheney was pretty loaded. One of the reasons I read your columns is that I have always thought you to have great integrity. You continue to say you like Matheney while pointing out his every weakness, maybe because you see no strengths other than he is a nice looking guy. You have intimated numerous times that there was a problem in the clubhouse last season and now you have intimated that there is some sort of a rap against Matheny. This is quite a statement to make without giving any substantiation at all to what you are postulating. You did that this past season about the clubhouse rift and now you are doing that again. I sure hope this isn’t going to became a pattern. I would be a shame to lose one of the best sports writers we have had in this town in my lifetime. You are heading down a slippery slope to becoming thought of like another kevin slaten type. DO NOT DO THAT. Go back to being the guy with integrity.

    • badgerboy23

      He is. Last week there was a major discussion outside STL regarding Fowler not wanting to play for MM. After playing with two ex-Cards last year, that conversation has to make one wonder. I picked up on that throw away comment as well, but assumed Bernie was putting a stake in the ground and working behind the scenes to figure out whether MM’s rep as a manager is hurting the club. Lets face it……there was a LOT wrong with last years club. I fully expected Mo to resign MM, but that 4 yr contract is head scratching.

      • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

        It would be helpful if you referenced those discussions with a link so we can see what this is all about!

      • geoff

        There truly was a lot wrong last year. They looked like a team had not been to spring training or practiced fielding at all. Mike fell in love with Moss and was willing to give up any chance of winning just to get him into the lineup. I could see Lackey bad mouthing Matheney, he wanted to go play for Joey. Heyward did not want to be the face of the franchise and now we see why. I am a bit confused by Bernie’s statement because I can’t recall him dealing in innuendo or making unsubstantiated claims, even in a throw away statement. My guess is the Cards will return to form this coming season and the Cubs will probably be very very good again. I have seen no evidence that they are some invincible juggernaught. I haven’t seen any comments from all of the Jon Jay haters who said Mo was an idiot for keeping him around and Mike was an idiot for playing him. Funny thing that the geniuses on the north side thought him to be an adequate bridge replacement for Fowler. I was a bit disappointed that Mo didn’t bring Jay back to bridge the gap to Sierra. Bernie does sometimes read the comments but he has not responded at all to this question.