A middle of the order power bat is not the only thing the Cardinals need this winter, however. They also need to overhaul the back end of their bullpen with Trevor Rosenthal lost to Tommy John surgery ( ) and Seung-Hwan Oh becoming a free agent. Oh led the club with 20 saves in 2018 and Rosenthal was second with 11.
Colome, 28, has saved 84 games the last two seasons, and saves pay well in arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $5.5 million in 2018, and the Rays are generally not a team that pays big for a closer. They don't have enough room in the payroll for an expensive reliever, so Colome being mentioned as a trade candidate certainly makes sense.
Over the past two seasons Colome has thrown 123 1/3 innings with a 2.63 ERA (156 ERA+) and 129 strikeouts, a performance that earned him a selection to the 2016 All-Star Game. He is not a rental. Colome is under team control through the 2020 season, so he's a potential three-year pickup. He's someone the Cardinals could plug into the ninth inning for the next several years.
Perhaps the bigger issue at hand here is not the Cardinals. It's the Rays. Tampa Bay has finished below .500 for four straight seasons now, and given the current roster and their payroll situation, it's difficult to think they'll be able to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees in the coming years, at least not without a lot going right.
It could be time for the Rays to throw in the towel and commit to a full blown rebuild. Colome is one trade chip. The Rays would surely find suitors for Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, Kevin Kiermaierand Evan Longoria. If you're going to tear it down, there's no reason to keep Longoria, not with him starting to decline and $86 million left on his contract.
For now, it seems Colome is available because the Rays always make their closer available when he starts to earn significant money. The Cardinals are an obvious potential trade partner given their need for bullpen help. Whether the Rays decide to take the plunge and fully rebuild is another matter, and right now, there are no real indications they're ready to do that.