Depending on what you read on the interwebs – and be careful out there – the St. Louis Cardinals are up to something big … or maybe up to nothing much at all.

The Cardinals are:

1) Secretly pursuing the elite free-agent Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto and have a chance because he’s buddies with Cards outfielder Lars Nootbaar. And sources tell me that their moms are in the same bundt cake of the month club. (Not really.) Yeah, I guess all of this puffery matters a heckuva lot more than the $200 million contract (or higher) that Yamamoto will draw from a major-league team.

2) They’re trying to acquire youngish starting-pitching ace Dylan Cease from the White Sox to pair with Sonny Gray at the top of the rotation. As speculative rumors go, this is at least feasible. And Cease makes sense for several reasons: he has two more seasons of contract control. He leads the majors in games started over the past three seasons and ranks 14th in innings. Since the beginning of 2021 Cease has a sizzling strikeout rate (29.8%) that ranks ninth among MLB starters.

Only seven MLB starting pitchers have more Wins Above Replacement than Cease. The gentlemen with more WAR are Zack Wheeler, Kevin Gausman, Corbin Burnes, Aaron Nola, Garret Cole, Logan Webb and Sandy Alcantara.

3) The Redbirds are making a trade pitch for starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow … or maybe it’s Shane Bieber. They’ll both be eligible for free agency after the 2024 season, so it could be a one-and-done for the teams that acquire them. And what about their respective injury histories? Over the last three seasons (2021-2023) Bieber has averaged 140 innings of work. With Glasnow, it’s a three-season average of 71 innings. Don’t worry! Be happy!

4) President of baseball operations John Mozeliak and his front-office inner circle are focusing hard on adding relievers to build a more secure bomb shelter. Absolutely. No sarcasm here. Fixing the bullpen is a mandatory assignment that cannot be screwed up.

5) Go ahead and make up your own Cardinals-related rumor. ‘Tis the season.

I’m more interested in assessing other trade candidates – the guys who could be sent from St. Louis to a new home, depending on the trade partner and the “ask” on a deal.

In alphabetical order:


The Rundown: The outfielder had an impressive 90 percent contact rate on pitches in the strike zone in 2023. But he didn’t have a lot to show for it in his first full MLB season, finishing with a .390 slug and a wRC+ that was 11 percent below league average. Burleson will likely improve going forward – Steamer projects a .442 slugging percentage for him in 2024 – so there’s risk in trading him.

Is Burleson Tradeable? Yes.

Is There Interest In Him? Yes. The big man won’t even enter his first year of arbitration until 2026.

Heartburn Meter For Trading Him: two antacid tablets out of a maximum of five.

Would Bernie Trade Him? Yes. But it can’t be a toss-in, giveaway kind of thing. The return has to make sense. And I have no way of knowing what that is right now.



The Rundown: Carlson was once the developmental prince who would do wonderful things as a switch-hitting big–league outfielder. But he has not increased his body mass or strength, and the Cardinals are frustrated by that. In 2023 Carlson’s slugging percentage dropped for the third consecutive season. And over the last two seasons he’s batted .204 with an anemic .327 slug when facing righty pitchers and put up a wRC+ against them that’s 23 percent below league average. Injuries were a more prominent issue for him last season. He still plays good defense.

Is Carlson Tradeable? Yes. But this is not a goldmine-value trade piece.

Is There Interest In Carlson? Yes. Carlson is still only 25 and is under control contractually through 2026. Interested trade partners will believe they can “fix” him. And maybe they can.

Heartburn Meter For Trading Him: 1 and ½ antacid tablets out of a maximum five. But the Cardinals haven’t found a way to get him going.

Would Bernie Trade Him? Yes. But it can’t be a toss-in, giveaway kind of thing. The return has to make sense. And I have no way of knowing what that is right now.



The Rundown: He’s become an increasingly valuable member of the Cardinals. In two seasons Donovan has delivered offense at a rate that’s 18 percent above league average, and his increase in power started to kick in last season. Donovan, who bats left, batted .294 with a .371 OBP and .460 slug vs. righties in 2023. He sees a lot of pitches, can wear pitchers down, and hits to all fields. In his two MLB seasons Donny has a small 14.7 percent strikeout rate and a good 11% walk rate. He can be used defensively at five or six positions and improved as a baserunner in 2023. In his MLB career Donovan has a .331 average and .999 OPS with runners in scoring position – and has performed 77 percent above league average in RISP situations. When Donovan was shut down to have elbow surgery to get ready for next season, the St. Louis offense crashed. Smart, tough, and constantly driven to improve. Just a helluva player.

Is Donovan Tradeable? Yes. I’m surprised there isn’t a line of front-office people waiting outside of Busch Stadium.

Is There Interest In Donovan? Yes. Intense interest. Among other good things, he can’t become a free agent until 2028.

Heartburn Meter For Trading Him: 5 antacid tablets out of a maximum five.

Would Bernie Trade Him? No. I can’t say that with 100 percent certainty, because a team could overwhelm the Cardinals (in a good way) with an offer. For those who think it’s OK to move Donovan – no worries – here’s why I say it would be a mistake. The Cardinals had a soft team in 2023. They must develop younger leadership. From ownership on down, Donovan is viewed as this team’s leader in waiting. Why? Because he’s relentless. He’s an advanced student of the game. He plays with an edge. He sets a high standard for himself and doesn’t settle for any part of his performance that disappoints him. He loves to work. And – this is really important – Donovan is reaching the stage where he wants to take charge, and lead the other players. He’ll do that by setting an example – and by speaking up and challenging teammates. He’s respected by everyone in the clubhouse. Trade away your future leader? Proceed with caution.



The Rundown: He’s the team’s best baserunner. He already has one Gold Glove (for second base) and probably deserved a second. He’s capable of playing shortstop. He’s impressed with his defense in center field. His energy is fantastic. But the switch-hitting Edman is still tormented by right-handed pitching; he’s been below league average against them in three of his past four seasons. Over that time Tommy’s onbase percentage against righties is a disappointing .315. He’s never evolved into the high OBP guy the Cardinals wanted.

Is Edman Tradeable? Sure. But his defensive versatility is a plus, and manager Oli Marmol wants him to play center field. But center-field prospect Victor Scott will arrive in St. Louis during the 2024 season, and the front office won’t block him. That would be stupid.

Is There Interest In Edman? Yes. Inquiries have been made.

Heartburn Meter For Trading Him: 3 antacid tablets out of a maximum five.

Would Bernie Trade Him? I’d strongly consider the idea, but it depends on what’s being offered. Edman will turn 29 in May. He’s moving into the larger-salary part of the arbitration years. (He’ll make an estimated $8 million in 2024.) He can become a free agent after the 2025 season. I assume that his speed, defense and versatility form an attractive package for interested teams. He’s movable for the right price. The Cardinals can’t keep all of these fellas.



The Rundown: Over the course of his first two MLB seasons, Gorman showed significant improvement from his rookie year to his second year. His slugging percentage went from .420 to .478. He nearly doubled his home-run count, from 14 to 27. His RBI total went from 35 to 76. His wRC+ increased 13 percent from his first season to his second. (He was 18 percent above league average offensively in 2023.) Gorman improved defensively at second base. And he was a terrific baserunner in 2023.

Is He Tradeable? Yes. Gorman will be only 24 on his next birthday in May and has imposing, left-handed power. In his age 22 and 23 seasons, Gorman hit more homers (41) than any left-handed hitter in the same age range and was fourth with a .454 slugging percentage. He’s still learning. He won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2028 season.

Is There Interest In Gorman? Absolutely.

Heartburn Meter For Trading Him: 4 and ½ antacid tablets out of a maximum 5.

Would Bernie Trade Him? Doubtful. Perhaps even highly doubtful. But there’s a factor that gives me hesitation. Gorman has recurring trouble with back pain. It’s caused him to miss games at a young age. This has become a source of concern for the Cardinals. That could make the club more open to the idea of listening to trade offers.



The Rundown: Noot is a really good player with the skills to become a great player. The 2023 season was sort of a mixed bag. On one hand, his onbase percentage went up 27 points (to .367) compared to 2022 – but his slugging percentage dropped by 30 points, to .418. However: the left-handed swinging Nootbaar punished righty pitchers for a .271 average, .381 OBP and .454 slug. Per wRC+, Noot was 30 percent above league average against RHP in 2023. That’s impressive. And he’ll get even better.

Is He Tradeable? Yes. But the Cardinals aren’t looking to do that. They see him as a lineup catalyst who can play all three outfield positions as needed.

Is There Interest In Nootbaar? Plenty.

Heartburn Meter For Trading Him: 4 antacid tablets out of a maximum five.

Would Bernie Trade Him? I do not have enthusiasm for the idea of moving him. I really like the outfield vision of seeing Nootbaar in left, Victor Scott in center, and Jordan Walker in right. And Nootbaar isn’t eligible for free agency until 2028. But as the old saying goes: never say never. And I’ve been accused of overrating him. I don’t think I am doing that — but your dissent is duly noted.



The Rundown: Too many injuries, not enough playing time, short on impact. In 2021 O’Neil hit 34 homers, slugged .560 and put up a .912 OPS. But over the next two seasons combined he had 23 homers, a .399 slug and .707 OPS. The decline has been rather drastic. And the frustration with him is booling.

Is He Tradeable? Yes. There are teams that see him as a worthy fixer-upper. Teams that think they can unlock his power. T.O. is the typical “change will do him some good” candidate.

Is There Interest In O’Neill? Yes … but presumably limited. But interested front offices also know he’s entering the final season before free agency and could be motivated (finally) by the last chance to enhance his market value next offseason.

Heartburn Meter For Trading Him: One antacid tablet out of a maximum of five.

Would Bernie Trade Him? Yes indeed. I’d be more fired up about it if I knew the Cardinals could get a high-strikeout arm for their bullpen. Something like that. But that said, the Cardinals have to get him out of the clubhouse. As mentioned, this team went soft in 2023 … fairly or not, O’Neill symbolized that. And the culture must be altered.


FINAL NOTE: There are other possible trade candidates, but for now I wanted to focus on guys that are part of their big-league team. Another possibility is lefty pitcher Steven Matz but he could help the Cardinals as an effective starter-reliever combo pitcher. The Cards also owe Matz $25 million over the final two seasons of his contract and that probably dampens trade interest. The front office might be willing to include prospects in a deal. But would Mozeliak make top pitching prospect Tink Hence available? What about pitching prospect Tekoah Roby, or infielder Thomas Saggese? I’m just throwing that out there.

Have a nice weekend and thanks for reading ….


Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible. Baseball Prospectus, Bill James Online or Sports Info Solutions unless otherwise noted.


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.