Well, this season didn't go to plan by any means. The St. Louis Cardinals, currently at a 49-65 record while being 11.5 games behind in the National League Central standings, decided it was time to cut loose on some players to "retool the farm system" for the upcoming years. But who did the Cardinals sell-off, and what did the team get in return? Find out below.
The deadline moves started early for the birds on the bat, dealing struggling left-handed reliever Génesis Cabrera to the Toronto Blue Jays in return for Rookie Ball Catcher Sammy Hernandez. Cabrera was DFA'd a few days before this move, so getting anything for him was a win to the Cardinals and allowed Cabrera to get a much-needed change of scenery. Hernandez is only 19 years old in rookie ball, so much development is needed before seeing what he can bring to the table.
Fast forward roughly a week to July 30th, two days before the deadline. St. Louis makes two moves that are the big notifier they are selling, first of moves trading flamethrower Jordan Hicks to the Toronto Blue Jays for two RHP pitching prospects named Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse. The Cardinals and Hicks could not agree on an extension, and with how hot the bullpen market is, particularly during the deadline, Hicks was the best reliever available. Kloffenstein was unranked in the Jays' system but comes over and slides in as the 23rd-ranked prospect in our top 30. He has the makings to become a back-end starter in the Cardinals' future rotation; however, he's still young, only 22 years old, and he needs to lower his walk rate before he can find success. (He gives off Dakota Hudson vibes, lots of ground balls, not many K's, and a little bit of a walk issue, likely due to not being confident in certain pitches.) He pitched six scoreless in his first start in Memphis, which I liked seeing. Sem Robberse was ranked number seven in the Blue Jays system and comes into the Cardinals system as our 6th ranked prospect in the top 30. Robberse is a very intriguing prospect; at only 21 years old, he was a futures game participant this year and had some absolutely nasty secondary pitches that he can wield with a lot of finesse however does lack in the strikeout department, which will raise as he hopefully puts a few more MPH on his fastball. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved it if we kept Hicks around, but we shipped him to a contender where he can excel, and I really like what Robberse brings to the table.
Not even an hour later, after the Hicks trade gets first announced, Cardinals fans find out arguably the best deal we made all deadline shipping Southpaw Jordan Montgomery and reliever Chris Stratton over to the Texas Rangers for a trio of players in LHP John King, infielder Thomas Saggese and RHP Tekorah Roby. King is a 28-year-old left-handed reliever that’s had major league experience with the Rangers, pitching to a career 4.21 ERA in 128 innings of work; he doesn't that's walked much or strikeout much but gives up a lot of hard hits, but the Cardinals needed an arm in the pen to replace Stratton and hicks so I don't have an honest opinion on him, just hope he can eat up some innings. The Rangers also sent over their number fourteen ranked prospect Thomas Saggese who slides into the Cardinals' top 10 prospects at number eight. Saggese has the tools to be a very solid major leaguer if his development goes right. He has a plus bat from the right side of the plate with the potential to become a 20-homer bat with the development of some strength. He can also play every infield position at least average, if not above average, with most of his time spent at second and third base, he does lack discipline at the plate, but for only being 21, I absolutely love his ceiling. Think of him as a Brendan Donovan 2.0 with a bit more pop in his bat. The best prospect we got all deadline was RHP Tekorah Roby, the eleventh-ranked prospect in the Rangers system and comes in at number four in the Cardinals system. Roby still needs some development as he rocks a solid four-pitch mix but lacks command of it. He's a bonafide strike thrower; however, he misses the middle of the zone more than he should, but at only 21, he has the potential to become a mid-rotation starter once he gets consistent with his location. Pay attention to how he returns from his shoulder injury that he's out with currently. If his mid 90's fastball loses its nasty vertical movement, then his potential will tank; however, currently, the ceiling is high, just like Saggese.
The last two trades the Cardinals made were on actual deadline day. The first move was trading shortstop Paul Dejong to the Toronto Blue Jays (again because two trades weren't enough) for RHP Matt Svanson. Svanson comes in unranked in the Cardinals system as he is 24 at double-A. He's a high strikeout pitcher, striking out 147 batters in his minor league career but has walked 43, making him the definition of a high strikeout, high walk rate pitcher. He is primarily a reliever, though, which is something to note because high strikeouts guys tend to excel well in the pen. Anyways though, the Cardinals could have a little something here if he does well in double-A and triple but do keep in mind we finally got something for Paul Dejong, so that in itself is a win.
The last trade of the day came right at the end when Jack Flaherty was sent over to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a trio of prospects in LHP Drew Rom, RHP Zack Showalter, and infielder César Prieto. Rom is coming in as the twenty-six-ranked prospect in the Cardinals system, and it's the definition of a deceptive lefty who doesn't throw the hardest but has good extension and arm angle. However, as Rom rose throughout the minors, he kept the strikeout rate high; however, his walk rate rose, and the ground ball percentage dropped. If his command can take back over like it used to be in the lower levels of the minors, he could be a back-end starter instead of a swingman, which is what his career looks like. Showalter is a 19-year-old hard-throwing right-handed pitcher that was tossed in right at the end of the deal. In rookie ball, which he started at this year, he struck out 16 batters in 10 innings, earning him a promotion. His fastball is explosive, and his slider looks about average however needs to develop a change-up to keep lefties in check. Control is an issue as he's only 19, but St. Louis should try to develop him as a starter; if not, he can excel in the bullpen. Prieto is a 24-year-old infielder that was the headliner of the Flaherty deal, with his contact-first approach coming from the left side of the plate. Since coming over from Cuba in 115 minor league games, Prieto's bat has shown us 11 home runs while still hitting around .300. He can play second and third very well, along with short in a pinch; however, his ceiling is looking to be a useful utility man that can ideally bring some pop from the left side of the plate. Overall a very safe player as you know what to expect from him and not necessarily what to expect from the pitchers.
The 2023 trade deadline was step one in the Cardinals' retool plan; they traded away expiring contracts and reloaded our weak farm system with many high-ceiling players that can hopefully help us out in the next few years. This off-season will be paramount in the Cardinals' success next season. However, Mozeliak got us on the right path by giving the farm system a much-needed boost as 4 of our top 10 prospects we just traded for. Overall a very successful trade deadline for the struggling birds on the bat.