Cardinals steady rotation with two starters on the time limit, instead of reaching a single star. St. Louis Cardinals

As the Cardinals plunged into negotiations that challenged their time-tested conservative approach to trade deadlines before ratifying it, the range of deals discussed was as broad as their imagination allowed. They can make headlines or bottom lines, a big splash, or a small fix.

The Cardinals explored a variety of deals that ranged from a replacement move for Juan Soto, a franchise-budding superstar, to stable starting pitchers who could at least fill inning pits. Within 30 minutes of Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Cardinals sent center fielder Harrison Bader to the New York Yankees for lefty Jordan Montgomery. He joined Jose Quintana as two left-wing starters that the Cardinals acquired in 24 hours and will debut in the rotation during this homestand.

At the time limit, the Cardinals got better than them.

They didn’t guarantee they were as good as they should be.

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President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliac agreed that the spectrum of outcomes of the deals effort was “apparently large”.

“You saw what we did versus what was rumored we would have to do,” Mozeliac said. “It would have been a very different look. For us, trying to understand calculus and how to think it through, I think we were prepared for. But ultimately, that’s not the direction we went. “

The Cardinals learned recently on Monday evening that they were not going to meet Washington’s asking price for Soto, the 23-year-old right fielder and home run derby champion. They were spinning plates on pitching options all over the market, some of which would have been ordered by top prospects.

Late Monday, the Cardinals acquired Quintana and reliever Chris Stratton from Pittsburgh. Both were at Busch Stadium on Tuesday. Stratton, a right-hander, made his debut with a ninth score and registered a 6–0 victory for the Cardinals. Quintana will debut in the finale against the Cubs on Thursday.

“I’m really happy to be here riding their coattails,” Stratton said.

The Cardinals spoke with several teams about the start – sources confirmed they discussed San Francisco with Carlos Rodan and Miami with Pablo Lopez; Neither was traded – and then an unexpected option came up. Montgomery, 29, has a 3.69 ERA in 21 starts for the 70-win Yankees, and nine of his 21 starts are quality starts in at least six innings. The Cardinals also have control of his contract through 2023. They have a high groundball rate and a low running rate that the Cardinals think will thrive in a larger ballpark than Yankee Stadium.

The cost of acquiring the lefty was Gold Glove winning center fielder and New York native Bader, who is on the injured list with leg pain. The Cardinals will add a player to be named later if Bader is not healthy for the Yankees’ post-season roster, a source said.

In Montgomery and Quintana, the Cardinals got the innings they chased, the innings they needed to complement the experienced Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas and ease the tension on the bullpen.

“We really felt like we were getting dissonance out of our rotation,” Mozeliac said. “But in the case of both guys, we think they are going to be solid contributors to our rotation. You see how they are performing and what they are capable of, that is exactly what we needed. ,

That answer had echoes of a scramble for last year’s innings that brought veterans John Lester and J.A. Happ on the deadline to help the Cardinals “get through”.

Mozeliac was asked on Tuesday whether the move to two left-handed starters this year has improved the Cardinals’ chances of winning the NL Central or just their chances of not falling further behind in the division.

“I think we improved our chances of winning the division,” Mozeliac said. “We have two months to play. We feel confident with starters who we can definitely count on to take us deeper (in sports). It allows someone to go back to the bullpen when we think we are stronger than we are today.”

A few days ago they were considering the strongest move in the market.

The Cardinals had continued talks with Washington about Soto, even meeting face-to-face with the Nationals last weekend. He decided that Washington was in high demand, and this was not a player the Cardinals did not want to include. It was this collection of players that pulled seven players from the Cardinals into Baseball America’s top 100 and several players from major league rosters. The nations were high on center fielder Dylan Carlson.

San Diego came out as the favorite to acquire Soto and struck a deal that eventually included St. Louis native Luke Voight as the final piece. The Padres acquired Soto and first baseman Josh Bell in exchange for some of the best young players in their system, or any system: outfielder Robert Hassel III, outfielder James Wood and shortstop CJ Abrams. They rank numbers 25, 62 and 11 in the BA’s top 100. And in the deal, Nets major-league starter Mackenzie Gore, a Rookie of the Year candidate, and Voight also go.

“That was better than what we were willing to do,” Mozeliac said. “Is there something we’ve seen? Yes. Is there something we obviously haven’t? Yes.”

Over the weekend in Washington, Mozeliec personally assured Carlson that they did not want to do business with him and that he was “their man”. That became even more apparent on Tuesday when the Cardinals cleared the way for Carlsen to become an everyday center fielder for this year – and years beyond.

How much the Cardinals think about the prospect of 20-year-old Jordan Walker also crystallized on Tuesday. Hours after the deadline, Walker made his first pro start at a location other than third base. He started for Class AA in left field and would watch time at all three outfield locations so that he could expand his number of positions to a larger number of positions when his bat was ready.

Near the 5 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, the Cardinals made two deep trades, sending catcher Austin Romain to Cincinnati for cash, before claiming a discount. The Cardinals replaced Romain on the depth chart by sending Class A pitcher Carlos Guarrett to Oakland for catcher Austin Allen, who was assigned to Class AAA Memphis.

The Cardinals (now 55–48) reached the trade deadline one game behind in the race for the first and third wild-card berths three games into the NL Central. Division-leader Milwaukee (57–45) remodeled their bullpen with several moves, including one for former Cardinals All-Star close Trevor Rosenthal. Philadelphia (55-47) added reliever David Robertson and starter Noah Syndergaard. Atalanta (62-41) acquired Jake Odorizzi and reliever Raisel Iglesias. In addition to Soto and Bell, San Diego also acquired Brandon Drury and reliever Josh Hader from Milwaukee on Monday.

Mozliak was asked how the moves made the Cardinals a World Series team.

“Going into the postseason and getting the opportunity to go to the World Series… I don’t think anybody is going to claim that they made the World Series club today,” Mozeliac did not speak for the San Diego side. “To answer your question, if we warm up we can play with anyone, and hopefully we warm up.”

It took a one-on-one 17-game winning streak for last year’s team to come out of the trade deadline and reach the postseason. It was mentioned to Mozeliac.

“Just relying on more consistency,” he said.

At least one move made this week by the Cardinals was to backfill an issue from a year ago and thought they had addressed in the off-season. Quintana, 33, was available as a free agent at a time when the Cardinals opted not to add as much depth. Four months into the season, instead of just dollars, Quintana and Stratton cost Cardinals reliever Johan Oviedo and hit prospect Malcolm Nez.

“It’s always foresight,” Mozeliac said. “You can always do something different in your off season. At that point, we felt like we had depth. We thought some of our starters were going to pitch. Injuries happen. Part of signing someone is opportunity and at that time we didn’t really have the opportunity to open the innings for him.

And so they found themselves on a trade time frame when they could have made a move unlike any of the earlier moves, a move of color until October, or moves that were closer to the same, just better. Last year, at the deadline, he made two left-wing starts that needed to get better for the Cardinals to survive the final two months. This year, the Cardinals are betting they will be better off if the two new lefty starters are just themselves.

“They’re just happy with what they’re doing,” Mozeliac said. “That would be ideal indeed.”

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