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Revisiting Two Cardinals Trades

Luke Voit in a Nationals uniform. Luke Voit/Twitter

Two noteworthy moves were made today. One directly involving the Cardinals and the other indirectly. I'm of course talking about the Cardinals signing Oscar Mercado to a minor league contract. What about the other one? Today was the non-tender deadline where the Cardinals decided not to tender contracts to Ben DeLuzio and former All Star Alex Reyes. One noteworthy player that was also non-tendered: former Cardinal Luke Voit. The Nationals decided not to tender Voit a contract for the 2023 season.

Why do I bring this up? Well both Mercado & Voit were traded from the Cardinals days apart. What were the trades?

July 29, 2018: Cardinals trade Luke Voit to the Yankees for LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP prospect Giovanny Gallegos.

July 31, 2018: Cardinals trade prospect Oscar Mercado to the Indians (now Guardians) for OF prospects Jhon Torres and Conner Capel.

At the time, or shortly after the trades, many fans were clamoring that the Cardinals lost both of the trades. Mercado had an outstanding rookie year in 2019, where he finished 8th in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Many fans said it was a mistake to trade him. He wasn't that great in the minor leagues, however, he finally came to life in 2017. Some figured he would be debuting in the next year or so.

While 2019 was great, he struggled mightily since, hitting under .200 entering 2022. This season wasn't much better for him. In 54 games, he barely hit .200. That was enough for the Guardians. They waived him and was claimed by the Phillies. However, he appeared in 1 game and was waived again. The Guardians decided to claim him back but he never appeared in the major leagues. Today, he's back with the Cardinals as a depth piece.

The Cardinals traded Voit because he didn't really have a fit with the team. Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez were splitting time at 1B, and Voit had all but proven himself in the minors. However, combined with poor play at the MLB level, along with no real fit with the current team, along with him not really factoring into the future of the Cardinals, they traded Voit for a current need to push towards the playoffs, which was a LHP. Enter Chasen Shreve. Many wondered why the Cardinals would trade for an average LHP who had an ERA over 4 at the time. Shreve got the job done, but appeared in only 3 games in 2019.

While they found that need in Shreve, the "prize" of the return was Giovanny Gallegos. Gallegos was 26 at the time of the trade. Still young, the Cardinals saw his potential as a late innings reliever. Gallegos has been a staple in the backend of the bullpen since being called up and will continue to be for 2023.

Back to Voit. He made an impact with the Yankees from the start. Immediately after the trade, he hit 14 home runs to finish the season. Then in 2021, he hit 21 home runs. 2020 was the height of Cardinal fans bemoaning. In the Covid shortened season (Voit played in 58 games), he led the league with 22 home runs. Extrapolate that to a regular 162 game season, and that would be 59 home runs.

Sure, it would have been nice to have him with all that power, but the offseason following the trade, the Cardinals acquired Paul Goldschmidt. That meant shifting Carpenter to 3B and that would mean, once again, no room for Voit. Voit has benefited from the short porch called Yankee Stadium & the AL East, along with being a DH, which, at the time of the trade, wasn't established in the NL.

Fast forward to 2022. Voit has been riddled with injuries aside from 2020 and becoming an all or nothing type hitter. The Yankees wound up trading him to the San Diego Padres during spring training. Many expected him to regain his power in San Diego but Petco Park isn't exactly hitter friendly. After playing half a season with the Padres, they shipped him off to the Nationals in the Juan Soto blockbuster where he played only 53 games.

Now, as of today, Luke Voit is a free agent after the Nationals decided not to tender him a contract. So did the Cardinals "win" the trades? I believe so. In Voit, they received a "now" piece in Shreve and a player who is a key for them now while Voit is looking for a job. In the Mercado trade, the Cardinals got 2 prospects for 1. Capel is now with the Oakland A's after the Cardinals waived him this season. Torres, at one point, was a top 10 prospect for the Cardinals. So not only did we get a decent prospect in return for Mercado, we now have Mercado again.

Many fans need to not jump to a conclusion about a trade right away. I'm guilty of this too, but I try to look at the whole picture and wait a few seasons in order to properly grade a trade. Sure the Cardinals have made some bad trades (Sandy/Gallen for Ozuna) but the Cardinals have certainly made some good ones. The Mercado & Voit trades, I think are two of the good trades made.

What are your thoughts about those two trades? Did we win those? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading and Go Cards!

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