The Cardinals made a move today to try to bolster their sagging offense, promoting Oscar Taveras from AAA Memphis. His promotion likely means less playing time for Allen Craig and possibly Matt Holliday. However, the team does not appear content with just that move.
According to Derrick Goold of the Post Dispatch, the Cardinals are "open to seeking a trade for a hitter at second base or third base." In either case, rookie Kolten Wong could be out of a job, as Carpenter would likely shift to second, if the team acquires a third baseman.
So, who might be available?
As of now, it appears that the following teams are likely to be sellers at this year's deadline: Cubs, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Padres, Rays, Astros and Rangers. Here's a look at what each of those teams might have to offer at either second or third. (It should be noted that the Cards could acquire a shortstop and move Jhonny Peralta to third and Carpenter to second, giving them a few more options).
The Cards are unlikely to find much talent here, as the Cubs currently employ Darwin Barney (.198/.243/.284) at second and Mike Olt (.142/.224/.346) at third. Emilio Bonifacio has some speed and can play second, third or center field, but he is hitting only .207 since April and is currently on the DL.
Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are likely off the table, as they both have no-trade clauses and have said they want to stay in Philadelphia. Cody Asche could be an option, as the Phillies have top prospect Maikel Franco waiting in the wings. However, as a young, cost-controlled player, he would likely cost the Cardinals more in terms of prospects.
Both Aaron Hill and Martin Prado are signed through the 2016 season, so its unlikely that the D'backs would trade either of them. They do have a glut of shortstops though, with Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and the recently promoted Nick Ahmed. However, Owings is injured, Gregorius is not much of a hitter and Ahmed is unproven.
Chase Headley is certainly available. He is hitting just .204/.293/.327, so the Cardinals could potentially get him cheap. However, is he really an upgrade over Wong? He had one monster year in 2012, when he hit .286 with 31 homers and 17 stolen bases, but didn't really do much before or since then.
Ben Zobrist is likely available. He is signed through 2014 at $7.0 million and has a $7.5 million option for 2015. He is a career .262/.353/.432 hitter, but is 33 as has started to show some signs of decline. However, he has shown the ability to get on base in the past and could slot in nicely in the second hole of the lineup.
Jose Altuve's name immediately jumps out at you. When you're hitting .347 with 36 stolen bases (and just 3 caught stealings), people take notice. However, he is signed through 2017 with 2 reasonable team options, which could lock him up through 2019, so its unlikely that the Astros would trade him.
The Rangers have made it be known that all of their players are available, but some, like Adrian Beltre, would cost a lot more than others. The Cardinals could pursue Elvis Andrus, who is a career .273/.337/.348 hitter and generally regarded as a good defensive player. However, his speed and defense don't make up for his career OPS of .685 (84 OPS+) and his contract jumps up to $15 million per season, starting next year, making him much less appealing.
Overall, there are not a lot of quality options out there, but I think the best bet would be for the Cardinals to go after Ben Zobrist. He can get on base and would definitely be an upgrade offensively over Wong. Beyond him, you're looking at guys like Asche and Headley, who carry a bit more risk and don't necessarily provide you with an offensive boost.