One of the first big trades of this past winter was between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves. It was a surprising swap of Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden leaving Atlanta in return for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. With Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright lost for the year, that trade way back in November becomes significantly more meaningful this season.
For the Cardinals, the need to trade for an outfielder came about after the tragic death of their young outfielder, Oscar Taveras. Heyward fit the void perfectly for St. Louis as a left-handed bat with power inserted into a lineup that could use a jolt in that department. Yet, there is still some risk involved in the deal as Heyward is only signed through this season, and could walk away from St. Louis during the winter. With Heyward not locked up long-term at this point, the Cardinals could very well be searching to fill an outfield void for a second consecutive offseason.
In Miller’s case, the Cardinals had a stockpile of pitching within their organization. At the time of the trade, he had just turned 24 with a 26-18 record and a 3.33 ERA. Along with Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, the trio could have been the future backbone of a St. Louis rotation behind Wainwright. After already moving Joe Kelly during the 2014 season, St. Louis ultimately parted ways with Miller as well a few months later. In Atlanta, Miller is off to a solid start through four starts. He has really thrown the ball well while posting a 3-0 record with a 2.05 ERA.
With the unfortunate news of Wainwright being out for the remainder of the year, the Cardinals appear to be vulnerable. In the NL Central, St. Louis and Wainwright were off to a fast start. However, the margin of error may be very slim this season with potential contenders in the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs hot on their tails. Losing Wainwright will become a major factor in the race. The Cardinals have already come out and said that they will try to replace Wainwright from within, but do not count out yet another deal that would affect their starting rotation and dealing for the likes of Cole Hamels the same way they traded for John Lackey last season.
While Wainwright will ultimately return to the Cardinals next season, Shelby Miller is already gone and Jason Heyward may follow. After the events of this weekend, that trade back in November could turn out to be very costly for the Cardinals. Perhaps with Miller n the rotation, St. Louis would not miss a beat this season, but he is in Atlanta. It will be a tall task to replace the likes of Wainwright who has logged the most innings pitched in the Majors over the last three years. If another trade is needed for the Cardinals, just how much will St. Louis ultimately lose filling the void left by the loss of Adam Wainwright?