St. Louis Cardinals: Buyers
Why: The Cardinals are 43-39, and just 2.5 games off the division lead. The team also has the highest run differential (+65) in the National League, and could be in for a strong second half.
Who do they need: The Cardinals’ offense has been great without Albert Pujols. The team’s 18.3 offensive WAR leads all of baseball.
The team also has been strong in the rotation, despite missing Chris Carpenter all year. With Carpenter electing to undergo season-ending surgery, the team could be more inclined to look at another starter.
Where the team really needs help is in the bullpen. Mark Rzepczynski has collapsed badly, with a 5.65 ERA. Fernando Salas has a really struggled with his command.
Who can they deal: The Cardinals don’t have much to deal, and shouldn’t part with anything major. The team is in a great position to contend, and shouldn’t give away anything that could jeopardize their future.
With pitching prospect Shelby Miller in the minors, the team doesn’t have to rush out and acquire a starter. And once Lance Berkman returns, the team can shift their outfielders or move Allen Craig again.
If Craig moves back to second base, the team could elect to deal Daniel Descalso or Skip Schumaker, but neither player would bring back a big return. Jon Jay might have some value, but he’s hit .322/.390/.406 this season, and the team may want to hold on to him.
Who is available: The Cardinals could make a play for a second-tier starting pitcher. Kevin Millwood and Bartolo Colon aren’t special, but they make sense provided the Cardinals can find the right pieces to deal.
Verdict: The Cardinals are in great shape this season. With a little bit of luck, they can easily emerge as the best team in the division. There’s not much they need to acquire, which is good, because they don’t have many pieces to give up.