Inbox: Were Cardinals interested in Greinke?

Beat reporter Anne Rogers fields fans' questions

August 2nd, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- The Trade Deadline passed without the Cardinals adding anyone, but the season marches on. And after their dominant, 8-0 win over the Cubs on Thursday night, St. Louis sits alone in first place in the National League Central.

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak, general manager Michael Girsch and the rest of the front office emphasized their belief that the Cardinals can win the division with the roster they had before the Deadline. And with two months to go, we’ll see if that turns into reality.

Let’s sift through the post-Deadline mayhem.

Were the Cardinals ever in on ? They wouldn’t have had to offload as many prospects as they would’ve for or , though it would’ve been more costly.
-- JD M., Metairie, La.

The Cardinals were looking for non-rental quality starting pitchers, but the price for Greinke would have been too high. Just look at the deal: The Astros, who had the No. 6 farm system in the Majors at the beginning of the season, gave up three of its top five prospects, as well as their No. 22 prospect.

The Cardinals’ system doesn’t rank in the Top 10. And it has been thinned recently in the deal -- three of the four prospects sent to the Marlins were in the top 15 of the Cardinals’ system -- and the deal: Two former prospects (Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver), one prospect now in the D-backs Top 30 (Andy Young) and a Draft compensation pick.

From the haul the Astros gave, it was clear that the D-backs were looking for prospects in the Greinke deal, given Arizona gave up its own No. 1 prospect, shortstop Jazz Chisholm, for Marlins’ pitcher Zac Gallen -- who, of course, was one of those top prospects dealt to the Marlins last year for Ozuna.

As for cost, the Astros are paying $53 million of the $77 million remaining on Greinke’s contract, which runs through 2021. So the D-backs asked for salary relief, but they were demanding prospects.

The Cardinals asked what it would take to land almost every available starter on the market, but they felt the price was too high for all of them. Mozeliak was clear: The Cardinals were unwilling to give up their top two prospects, Nolan Gorman and Dylan Carlson, or anyone from the Major League roster. That was especially the case for an impending free agent -- like the Mets’ Zack Wheeler, whom the Cardinals pushed for -- to give 10 or 11 starts.

That resulted in no acquisitions, and we’ll find out what the consequences -- or lack of consequences -- are for that.

Are there any plans to bring up any time soon with both and struggling?
--Tom H., Iowa City, Iowa

Because the Cardinals didn’t part with any of the depth in Triple-A Memphis during the Deadline, it’s likely we’ll see some of that depth in the big leagues as the season continues.

Arozarena is certainly making the case for a callup. Since the center fielder’s promotion to Memphis on June 12, he’s slashed .374/.443/.579 with 25 RBIs in 44 games with the Redbirds. His OPS is 1.022 in that span. When Bader was optioned to Memphis on Monday, Arozarena wasn’t called up mostly because he wasn’t on the 40-man roster. The Cardinals didn’t want to make the move as the Trade Deadline neared, and they didn’t want to bring Arozarena to the Majors for the first time if he wasn’t going to get consistent at-bats.

The 40-man roster is full, so it’s hard to see a place where Arozarena naturally fits barring injuries or moves to the 60-day injured list. The Cardinals are still high on Bader’s defense in center, so if he finds his swing -- he was 2-for-5 with a walk in Memphis on Thursday -- he’ll return to St. Louis. Munoz can play the infield and outfield, as well spark the offense at times, so he’s likely not going to go anywhere.

It’s likely the Cardinals will want to find a spot for Arozarena in September. Especially if Bader continues to struggle, Arozarena seems like a jolt to the offense and could help in the last month of the season.

What do the Cardinals plan to do with ? He's not even considered as an option for the fifth starting spot?
-- Álex, Chihuahua, México

Helsley, who is on the 40-man roster, will likely return to St. Louis before the season’s end -- it’s just a question of when and how.

After two scoreless innings in relief for the Cardinals against the Reds on July 20, both of his appearances back in Memphis have been starts. On Sunday, he threw 48 pitches and allowed one run on three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Then he threw three hitless innings with 35 pitches Wednesday, stretching him out further.

So if struggles, Helsley could be built up enough to give them at least five innings during a start. They could give another shot, although he might have to stay in Memphis awhile longer to work on his command. There’s also , who is not on the 40-man roster, but as discussed above, could be one of those prospects added before the end of the season. Woodford has a 4.11 ERA in 20 starts for Memphis this season after impressing the Cardinals in the spring.

Although limited, the Cardinals have options if Wacha doesn’t run with the rotation spot. This is a spot where, if the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs for the fourth straight year, they could look back on and wonder about the what ifs at the Trade Deadline.