With the trade deadline looming on the horizon, its time to start thinking about who might be sellers this year and do they have anything the Cardinals need?
Taking a look at the current standings, its pretty easy to pick who will definitely be selling come July. The Miami Marlins, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are all far enough out of the race for a playoff spot to assume that they will be sellers.
Here's what those teams probably have to offer come July that might have some interest for the Cardinals:
Ricky Nolasco is on the block and the Marlins may not wait until July to trade him. With some of their starters getting healthy, the Marlins could move Nolasco to make room for them in the rotation. With the rash of injuries to their starting pitching, the Cardinals could pursue someone like Nolasco as a short term rental and ease the pressure on their rookie starters.
After Nolasco, the most likely targets could be right handed relievers Chad Qualls and Ryan Webb, who could help shore up the Cardinals shaky bullpen.
Of course, there have been rumors surrounding Giancarlo Stanton ever since the Marlins completed their latest fire sale. However, given that the Marlins haven't shown an interest in trading Stanton and the Cardinals probably wouldn't want to pay the enormous price to acquire him (I'm thinking any discussion begins with Oscar Taveras), a trade involving Stanton is highly unlikely.
The Cardinals were linked to Astros pitcher Bud Norris back in March, per Peter Gammons, however I do not see a fit here, as I don't see him as an upgrade to their rotation.
Eric Bedard is another possibility, but he has fared worse than Norris and is an unlikely target for the Cards.
The more likely scenario is that the Cardinals make a play for either righty Jose Veras or lefty Wesley Wright. Either of them could help bolster the Cards bullpen and would likely come at a low cost. I'm thinking something similar to the Zack Cox for Edward Mujica trade last year would get the job done.
New York Mets
The Mets are a mess and thus their potential trade candidates are not very appealing. Thus, the most likely trade targets for the Cardinals would be relievers Brandon Lyon or LaTroy Hawkins. Again, the Cardinals would be hoping to get one of them cheap in an effort to shore up their bullpen.
The Cubs could have as many as 3 starting pitchers on the market in Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and former Cardinal Edwin Jackson. Garza would be the best option, but would also cost the most. While Feldman and Jackson have not proven to be any better than the Cardinals current internal options.
Then there's the case of Carlos Marmol. He can be a lights out pitcher when he's on, but more often than not he's off. Unless the Cubs basically give him away for next to nothing, I don't see him as a viable option for the Cards.
Again, there's not much here to look at. John Axford is a possibility, if the Cardinals think they can turn him around. Otherwise, the best bet would likely be lefy Mike Gonzalez. He shouldn't cost too much in terms of prospects and could provide the Cards with another lefty option in the pen.
The way I see it, the Cardinals could do one of two things, pursue a starter to allow them to push Michael Wacha into a bullpen role down the stretch and limit his innings or pursue another reliever. In either case, their goal should be to strengthen their main weakness, their bullpen.