Here’s a look at possible trade candidates if the Cardinals go into the so-called seller mode before the Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline. If inclined to offload players, what does president of baseball operations John Mozeliak have to offer?

Before I proceed with my typing, I think it’s important to understand this: as my friend the great Derrick Goold noted on my 590 The Fan radio show, the Cardinals’ prominent moves — if there are any — will be targeted for 2024. And if Mozeliak adds help for 2023, that’s a bonus. Perhaps their outlook will change as the weeks go by until it’s late July. But prioritizing 2024 is where the Cardinals stand right now.

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Paul Goldschmidt won’t be traded, and I have no idea why so many people out there – including those who should know better – keep pitching a bogus narrative that’s a non-starter. Full stop. You can turn blue in the face to make a case for trading Goldschmidt, but you don’t own or run the franchise and the Cardinals will not move him. So there’s no need for y’all to raise your blood pressure in arguing about a fantasy trade that has no basis in reality. Oh, and he has a no-trade clause.

2. The same applies to Nolan Arenado. Mozeliak and chairman Bill DeWitt want to return to winning 2024 – as defined by their standards – and Goldy and Arenado are essential pieces in the plan. Mozeliak has made it clear: the Cardinals will not be tearing down this team. They’ll try to regroup for 2024 by adding talent and keeping Goldschmidt and Arenado. Do I have confidence in Mozeliak’s ability to improve the team in a meaningful way? Heck no. But he won’t be moving his first baseman or his third baseman.

3. Jordan Montgomery: As of now, he’d be their most attractive trade candidate. (I’m talking about realistic trade candidates, not trade candidates concocted by people who are emerging from some sort of acid trip.) In 27 starts as a Cardinal the durable lefty has a 3.35 ERA and a quality-start rate of 53 percent. This season he’s tied for seventh among National League starters with a 2.1 WAR. He can become a free agent after the season. If the Cardinals are selling, then it’s best to flip Monty instead of losing him … unless they would rather have a compensatory draft choice when he signs with another franchise. Montgomery is represented by Scott Boras, and he’ll cash in for a financial windfall when the free-agent bidding begins. As for the trade market, Montgomery should draw significant interest and the Cardinals have a chance to improve their team for the remainder of 2023 and beyond.

4. Another comment on Monty: It’s a good thing the Cardinals front office declined to engage him in talks about a contract extension during spring training. Montgomery was receptive to the idea as long as the two sides agreed to a deal by the start of the regular season. The Cardinals did not seize the opportunity and now stand to lose him after the season. Hey, no problem! The Cardinals have an abundance of excellent starting pitchers and don’t have room for them all in 2024. Pardon my sarcasm. On a more serious note: a springtime deal with Montgomery was extremely unlikely because Boras strongly advises his clients to enter the market.

5. Jack Flaherty: I keep reading that there are many desperate teams out there, anxious to strengthen their starting rotation. There will be interest in Flaherty, but how much? What would be his value in the trade market? Could Mozeliak possibly get a trade partner to overpay? I’d be surprised because Flaherty can become a free agent after the season. He’s had some good starts in 2023, but he has a 4.95 ERA in 15 starts and doesn’t go deep enough into games because of a soaring walk rate that eats up his pitch count. That said, Flaherty could be appealing to optimistic teams that believe they can “fix” him. And I do think that a smarter organization with a more astute grasp of pitching has a better chance to get him right. Flaherty is the most likely Cardinal to get traded.

6. Jordan Hicks: The trade market should be crowded with hyperventilating teams that are looking for bullpen help. So in that context, Hicks could be a prize acquisition. Sure, Hicks can become a free agent after the season, which might lower his appeal to some extent. But what if a Hicks-friendly suitor also plans to retain him with a contract extension? Come to think of it, why wouldn’t the Cardinals re-sign him if he’s evolved into a dominant closer? That said, it would be A Typical Cardinal Thing To Do: let Hicks walk because they’re resistant to the cost of retaining him. Yep, the same organization that wasted $32.5 million on Brett Cecil and a bunch of money on Andrew Miller.

7. Chris Stratton: the underrated right-handed reliever should be attractive to potential trade partners who appreciate his durability, his willingness to handle a heavy workload, and his effectiveness against LH hitters who have a .641 OPS against him this year. He too is eligible for free agency after the season, and MLB front offices have a tendency to overspend in working out deals with free-agent relievers.

8. Paul DeJong: He hits for power, and ranks fourth among MLB shortstops in defensive runs saved since the start of 2019. He comes with a $12.5 million club option for 2024 and a $15 million club option for 2025, but both can go away with a relatively low buy-out provision. With top prospect Masyn Winn likely to emerge at shortstop for the big club in 2024, the Cardinals may gauge interest in DeJong before the trade deadline. But would that mean moving Tommy Edman back to shortstop? That outfield defense would suffer for it.

9. Tyler O’Neill: assuming he returns on schedule from an extended stay on the IL with a back strain, he looms as an obvious trade candidate. And he’s under contractual control through 2024. But what about the injuries? What about a track record that shows only one outstanding season, 2021? I have no idea what his trade value might be. But again, he’s the type of hitter that could motivate a team to take a flier on him, banking on the old change-of-scenery hopefulness. Is Bro’Neill a low-risk gamble that can provide a big payout? That’s what it comes down to for interested teams. Tyler O’Neill is a lottery ticket. Teams already are asking about him.

10. Tommy Edman: he can play three infield positions, all three outfield positions, and is a switch-hitter with excellent speed. But he isn’t eligible for free agency until 2026, and I’m not sure why the Cardinals would be enthusiastic about moving him. There’s always a chance; what if a trade partner wants Edman in a larger-scale deal that would upgrade the Redbirds at other positions?

11. Brendan Donovan: a noisy percentage of the BFIB continue to nominate Donovan as a trade piece. But given manager Oli Marmol’s strong preference for multi-position defenders who have good OBP skill, I’d be surprised if the Cardinals dangle Donny. And this left-swinging hitter has a career .379 OBP vs. righties and a .397 OBP vs. lefties. But his career slugging percentage is only .381. Again, I don’t have a handle on Donovan’s realistic trade value. But dudes who play a lot of positions are appealing to teams that seek flexibility in creating matchups.

12. Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos: Cabby has a live lefty arm and can be awesome at times. But he can also be wild and erratic. What’s the market for him? Gallegos has been among the most reliable set-up relievers over the last several seasons and has a reasonable contract ($4.5 million) for 2024 — plus a club option for 2025. I don’t know why the Cardinals would want to move him when they’ll have to pursue relievers in advance of next season.

13. Ryan Helsley: He can’t become a free agent until 2026, and he packs plenty of firepower as a high-leverage reliever. But concerns over his durability would probably reduce his current trade value. And he’s still on the IL and may not be fully operational by the trade deadline. No pun intended, but he’s a wild card.

14. Dylan Carlson: Hey, deal him for Juan Soto! (Joking.) I don’t know how the Cardinals view Carlson. Have they lost patience or is their patience intact? He hasn’t emerged as a star outfielder, and his career to this point has been disappointing. But if some teams covet him, the Cardinals would have to listen.

15. Outfielders/DHs Alec Burleson and Juan Yepez: There could be a market for them, especially Burleson. But the Cardinals believe in Burleson, so it would have to be a deal that excites them.

16. Steven Matz: dream on.

17. Matthew Liberatore: does the front office still love him?

Of course, a lot can change between now and Aug. 1 — injuries, teams going from buyers to sellers and vice-versa — so I’ll probably come back to revise the list at some point as move closer to the big day.

Thanks for reading…


Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and Miklasz. It’s available on your preferred podcast platform. Or follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Sports Info Solutions, Fielding Bible and Baseball Prospectus.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.