As the St. Louis Cardinals spiral out of control during this 2017 season, the water cooler discussion has centered around trade speculation. In other words, will General Manager John Mozeliak pull the clip out of the grenade and blow this roster up? The healthiest name among the pool has been Lance Lynn, the 30 year old cheddar cheese dispensing machine who is recovering from Tommy John surgery while he finishes a three year/21 million dollar contract.
Outside of Trevor Rosenthal and Jedd Gyorko, no other Cardinal carries more juice than the Ole Miss alum. He is a durable, innings eating, strikeout collecting starter that teams require to complete their stretch run launch. It boils down to whether the Cards can get enough for him as he struggles in the middle of the season, or should they hold onto him, and ease into a contract extension.
Redbird Daily’s Adam Butler made a good case to keep Lynn around this week, and he broke it down further on my WGNU morning drive radio show Wednesday morning. Adam warned that the return for Lynn may not be as rich as some assume, so holding onto him could be in the best interests of Mozeliak. Is he right? Give it a listen.
What do I think? I think the Cardinals should trade Lynn, because it shouldn’t affect whether they can retain him in the offseason, and with the way this season is going, what is the real worth in keeping him around? I believe other teams can see through the Tommy John smoke screen that Lynn will be able to bounce back to his strikeout producing self in 2018 and offer competing teams one last piece to make that run. Teams like the Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, and Chicago Cubs will be waiting in line.
While I like the way Lynn works and find him valuable, he is walking down the other side of the 30 year old street, which could spell a slight or marginal demise in his value. He is going to get paid, because you don’t carry his resume without receiving a 5-6 year deal worth around 95 million. If Mike Leake can command five years and 80 million, Lynn will get more. Do the Cardinals want to potentially get nothing from his exit except for a second round draft pick?
I’d trade high on Lynn’s steady resume, collect a couple decent prospects, and let a young gun like Luke Weaver or Jack Flaherty take aim at that spot until Alex Reyes is ready next season to start MLB games. The Cardinals have Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, and Mike Leake returning next season, as well as Michael Wacha. One of those spots will go to Weaver, and I would expect Mozeliak to make a move for a legitimate #2 starter to plug in behind Martinez as Reyes gets his arm back up to speed.
Do the Cardinals want to pay Leake and Lynn a total of 180 million to solidify the third and fourth spot in the rotation for the next 4-6 years? I don’t think so. It’s not good business to gamble on two declining assets. I would bet that Lynn pitches elsewhere in 2018 due to his enlarged price tag.
So the Cardinals need to get something for him. Let’s hope for a few favorable performances from Lynn down the stretch to the trade deadline to enhance his value a bit, but make no mistake, he is heading out of town.
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