The St. Louis Cardinals have to react to a couple unfortunate developments from the 2014 season as they try to build a contending team to hang with the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central.
The first problem is the health of their starting rotation. Serious injuries to Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, and Joe Kelly have forced the Cardinals to tap into their reserve of young talent and consider possible trades for a starting pitcher.
The second problem is the collective lack of offense from a lineup that produced an astounding number of runs in clutch situations over the course of the 2013 season. To address this problem the Cardinals might dip their toes into the trade market as well. Specifically the team could look to deal one of their many outfielders, either at the big league level or in their system, to build a package and land another infielder.
The versatility of Matt Carpenter, the current third baseman who can also man second base, allows the Cardinals to consider deals for upgrades at either of those spots. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch notes two potential trade targets for St. Louis if they go down that path:
The Cardinals have been interested in Tampa Bay utility infielder Ben Zobrist in the past, and he could fortify the bench as well as be a challenger for playing time. San Diego third baseman Chase Headley has been slowed by a slump and back trouble but would be a half-season rental who fits the “change of scenery” profile.
With Zobrist the Cardinals would acquire a guy who can help the everyday lineup and who provide them with extra options because of his versatility. As for Headley, they would have to decide if he presents enough of an upgrade over current second basemen Kolten Wong and Mark Ellis to justify acquiring him and moving Carpenter to second.
It may be that the Cardinals stand pat or focus on pitching, but there are intriguing options if they do pursue deals for position players.