Rough news out of Cardinals spring training today as many reports have Alex Reyes needing Tommy John and being done for the year.
Not a great start to the season. For those who don’t know, Reyes was recently named Baseball America’s #1 prospect in baseball, and was primed for a full season in the Cardinals rotation after an impressive debut at the end of last year. Reyes is a flamethrower who had the potential to be a top of the rotation arm for the Cardinals all season as they attempted to catch the Cubs. Without Reyes its difficult to imagine how the Cards can catch up the Cubs or even maintain pace with the Pirates. Which brings me to an idea…
It’s very clear the White Sox are willing to trade their ace for the right price, could the Cardinals be suitors? This wouldn’t be an all-in for 2017 move as Quintana is signed for 4 years, and the hope would be Reyes could return in 2018 and form a dominant, cheap top of the rotation for years to come with Quintana and the recently extended Carlos Martinez. In the mean time, Quintana could take Reyes spot in the rotation and the Cardinals could run out a fairly competitive 2017 rotation of
- Carlos Martinez
- Jose Quintana
- Michael Wacha
- Mike Leake
- Adam Wainwright
To be fair, the Cardinals also have Lance Lynn on the roster, so they could hypothetically fill out the rotation without adding Quintana, but Michael Wacha as a #2 starter is not a great way to try to topple the Cubs.
As far as a hypothetical return, I’m sure the White Sox would require the #1 catching prospect in baseball Carson Kelly (#39 overall on MLB.com) and RHP Luke Weaver (#68), the Cards top two Non-Reyes prospects. After that, I would imagine the Sox would have pick of any other two Cards prospects, maybe settling on 2016 1st rounder Delvin Perez (#91 overall) and OF Harrison Bader.
For the Cardinals this would certainly empty the farm system, as the graduation of Reyes, departure of these 4 and loss of top 3 picks this year (Dexter Fowler compensation, Astros hacking scandal) would sting. And Carson Kelly would be a specifically tough loss, as he seems to be the catcher in waiting after the 34 year old Yadier Molina’s contract runs out after this season. However, Molina is still here for 2017, and without the addition of a major arm to offset the Reyes loss its hard to see the Cards contending for the NL Central. Quintana does that, and continues to be a major piece of Cardinals teams in the future. While just accepting defeat in 2017 might seem plausible for our tank-centric modern sports culture, the Cardinals have a mostly aging core in Dexter Fowler, Molina, Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Johnny Peralta and would be best served to contend in 2017. Add in the fact Bader and Perez seem mostly blocked at the MLB level for the near future (Bader profiles as a CF and Perez is blocked by Diaz for more than a couple years) and the trade becomes much more palatable.
For the White Sox this package certainly doesn’t have the headliner their recent trades have had (Giolito, Moncada) nor the headliner most Quintana rumors have had (Austin Meadows, Kyle Tucker, Clint Frazier) but should still be absolutely considered. Kelly could take over as the organizations long term solution at catcher, allowing the Sox to move Zach Collins to 1B and rush his bat up the organization, probably debuting as early as next year at DH. Or they could keep Collins at C, ride it out for as long as they can, and have a terrific C/DH combo in Kelly and Collins in 2019, when they next expect to contend. Weaver can add yet another high-profile arm to their minor league system, and Bader can rotate with another ex-cardinal Charlie Tilson in the CF audition during 2017. The real jewel could end up being Delvin Perez, who is young and full of potential. With a good 2017 and 2018 in the minors Perez could easily be a top 20 prospect heading into 2019, where the White Sox (who have Tim Anderson at SS) could flip him to fill a major hole on their roster. Imagine if the 2019 White Sox combine their prospect depth with a major signing (Manny Machado) and a major trade (Perez for a big name CF). Hell, the White Sox could even investigate the idea of sending Moncada to CF and stick Perez at 2B. Having top flight prospects is always a good idea.
Plus, as Grantland pointed out today, the 2017 White Sox might not be all that bad. Getting rid of Quintana provides a clearer path and allows them to really #TankForBeer.