In baseball, pitching is the key to success. Along with solid defense behind the hill; and, of course, the offense to give the pitcher a cushion with run support. This past season, the St. Louis Cardinals saw their rotation go from greatness in 2015 to a less than stellar in 2016. And, as we know, left-handed starters are premium simply because so few throw from the south. I believe, even though LHP Jaime Garcia struggled last season closing with a 4.67 ERA over a 2.43 in 2015, being Cardinals only lefty in their rotation is why his final team option of $12 MM was exercised for 2017. He will be a free agent in 2018. The MLB Winter Meetings will soon begin, December 4-8, in National Harbor, Maryland. Player agents will be in attendance to talk "free agent" deals; or, trade possibles. Rumors through this offseason, Cardinals "could" use J Garcia and RHP Michael Wacha as trade chips. Therefore, who might they have their sights on to fill the southpaw spot in their rotation?
Chicago White Sox LHP Chris Sale, seven years in the majors, five time All Star, five years in contention for the Cy Young award and two times in the MVP running.
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TRADE TARGET ~ PITCHER CHRIS SALE
Chicago White Sox LHP Chris Sale would be my pick to replace J Garcia's services in the Cardinals rotation. He's been a strong force for the southenders of Chicago. Last season, he closed 17-10/3.34 ERA with a K:BB ration of 223 SO/45 BB in 226.2 innings pitched, equaling 9.25 SO per nine and walking 1.79 per nine. He held a 1.037 WHIP; and just one small flaw. With delivering his pitches to the inside, he did ding 17 hitters. "Sale has one of, if not the best slider in the majors and it devastating against left handed batters and can also be used effectively against right handed batters. Combine that with a low to mid 90s fastball and a change up and you have yourself a very good ace." (Matthew Luhman, isportsweb.com) He held lefties to a .197 BA; and, from the right, a .232 average.
Sale has one season left on his 5 Yr/$32.5 MM contract and will be paid $12 MM in 2017. The kicker, White Sox do have two more seasons with team options on the books - $12.5 MM/1 MM BO/2018 and $13.5 MM/$1 MM BO/2019.
Sale, 27 years old and seven years in the majors, has been included in trade talks through many past seasons. However, obviously, never moved from Chicago's southside. Now, the shrewd businessman Vice-President Kenny Williams; and, General Manager Rick Hahn are going to make sure their time vested in Sale will come back to them two-fold; if indeed, a trade is made. Sale will not be an inexpensive deal.
Should the Cardinals go full-steam ahead and pursue the trade; in my opinion, Chris Sale would be an excellent addition to Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes. Cardinals combo are expected to be the #1 and #2 spot holders in the rotation for 2017. With Jaime Garcia's injury history, his less than stellar performance last season, bring on board Sale and two options for J Garcia. Cardinals bullpen or trade him off. I believe Sale gives the Cardinals at least five seasons, minimum, of solid pitching from the left. What the Cardinals would have to give up to get him, I'm sure would be substantial. However, I feel if they truly want to get back in the race in 2017 and beyond to succeed in "The Hunt for October", they will seriously consider this merger as money well spent. To solidify their rotation.
In just a few days, even with movement taking place thus far in the MLB, the winter meetings will provide much news of upcoming "deals" ~ or, "done deals", before the close of the Winter Meetings. This will be a time for the Cardinals to prove just how aggressive they intend to be.