ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Cardinals have been rumored to be in on the Paxton sweepstakes, but while fans and pundits have focused on the Yankees and Braves of the world, many are overlooking how well St. Louis lines up with the Mariners. With a nice farm system and a healthy dose of young, controllable MLB talent, the Cards have the pieces to build a very competitive package for Paxton’s services.
That could very well begin with Dakota Hudson, St. Louis’ third-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, who made a strong impression out of the bullpen at the MLB level in 2018. Hudson’s future, however, will likely be as a starter, and if his 13-3, 2.50 ERA season in Triple-A Memphis is any indication, then his potential is through the roof. For a Mariners rotation that seemingly has very little promise for its future, Hudson could fit perfectly atop its rebuild that will likely see Logan Gilbert and Sam Carlson at some point over the next three or four years.
Former Mariner Tyler O’Neill could also be a name of interest, as well as third baseman Patrick Wisdom. But the best, most realistic offensive prize would certainly be José Martínez, the 30-year-old slugger we had the M’s acquiring in our recent offseason plan. Martínez is still in the pre-arbitration period of his contract, and with Nelson Cruz appearing to be on his way out due in part to financial circumstances on Seattle’s side, he would be the perfect replacement.
Of all Cardinals prospects, my favorite for the M’s is catcher Andrew Knizner. The 23-year-old split his 2018 season at Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, combining for a .313/.368/.430 slash line over 84 games. Knizner isn’t the most defensively-inclined catcher, but there’s promise in his ability to control a pitching staff and manage games, something Seattle will value over anything he provides offensively. Though Knizner will need more time in Triple-A, he should be in the MLB sooner rather than later, and the M’s could certainly use a promising young catcher after trading Mike Zunino earlier this week.
There are countless names within the Cardinals organization that fit the bill of what Dipoto is looking for that we could go over, making them a very realistic candidate to land Paxton. Pair that with Dipoto’s history of relatively significant deals with St. Louis, there seems to be a lot to work with there.