The St. Louis Cardinals may or may not make RHP Carlos Martinez available for trade. If the team does, in fact, put the Dominican hurler on the block, the San Diego Padres will surely have some interest in the pitcher.
If the right-handed pitcher is made available, the San Diego Padres will surely kick the tires. As they should.
A few weeks ago, St. Louis fired Mike Matheny as their manager after seven years with the team. The firing was viewed as an attempt to save the Cardinals’ season, which has been a disappointment thus far. The Cardinals are currently 53-52 and eight full games behind the Chicago Cubs. They also have Milwaukee and Pittsburgh ahead of them in the standings. I know their record doesn’t seem like a failure, but there were some concerns about the clubhouse and if Matheny had lost it completely.
With the team falling further out of contention, will they make moves in the next few days?
Trading a pitcher like Carlos Martinez could be viewed as desperate, but the Cardinals could get a great haul in return for the pitcher. Martinez is signed through the 2021 season at $11.7 million per year and then holds two option years for 2022 ($17 million) and 2023 ($18 million). That is a bargain rate for a pitcher who actually could be considered an ace. There are arguably only a handful of pitchers who could be categorized as that. Martinez has tremendous upside and we have arguably yet to see the best from him.
The 26-year-old Dominican pitcher came off the DL on Monday after reporting an oblique issue during his last start. He looks to be healthy now, but has battled injuries two different times this year. The first was a right lat strain that sidelined him a few weeks. That is a bit concerning for a team looking to acquire his services, but his talent is certainly real.
Martinez holds a career record of 52-37 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.282 WHIP. Walks have always been an issue for this pitcher and he has set a career-high walk per/9 rate of 4.7 this year. It is amazing that he is successful with as many free passes as he allows. Part of the reason for his success is that he doesn’t give up hits. In 788 career innings, he has given up only 714 hits. That helps offset his base on balls issue, but can you imagine his worth and potential if he consistently threw strikes? He could be a perennial All-Star and a pitcher worth building around. Darren Balsley, anyone?
The Cardinals would expect a huge return, and they may get it from someone. A Chris Sale-type of return is what is expected to be gained for St. Louis if they choose to trade him. The Red Sox paid the Chicago White Sox a hefty price in late 2016 for Sale. Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz were who Boston sent to Chicago. Moncada was viewed as the No. 1 prospect in baseball at the time, Kopech was viewed as the No. 67 at the time, and Basabe was within the Red Sox top eight, but outside the top 100. Diaz was a late addition, but a very appealing prospect himself.
Four decent prospects is what the Cardinals will probably shoot for in return for Martinez. Two of the prospects will probably need to be in the top 100 in all of baseball. The San Diego Padres have the prospects to pay that kind of asking price, but is now the time to make such a bold move?
For starters, in a potential deal, the team might need to give up Fernando Tatis, MacKenzie Gore, Francisco Mejia, or Luis Urias. That right there might very well be a deal breaker. Those four are considered about as untouchable as it gets within the Padres’ system. Carlos Martinez is that good though. To get a proven commodity, sometimes you have to pay the price.
The Cardinals have no need to deal him presently. They are just weighing their options. All this talk could be nothing more than to gauge his value if they choose to go down that road eventually. For now, it appears the Red Birds will keep their young ace. But anything can happen in the next 48 hours.
If the Padres package several prospects (not including the big four) then they could possibly get something done. The team would have to give up a few big names though. Players like Michel Baez, Chris Paddack, Adrian Morejon, and Anderson Espinoza would be a painful loss. But it is going to take a couple of prospects like that to even get negotiations started.
There could be some interest on both sides here for a deal, but now may not be the best time. This is something that could come up again in the offseason. At that point, both team might have a better idea of what they need to accomplish a trade. Stay tuned, though. Preller is savvy and anything can happen when it comes to his quest to bring the San Diego Padres back to relevancy.