ORLANDO, Fla. — The Cardinals are looking at high-end starters, including Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, but are telling people they will first investigate the trade market before committing to a big-ticket free agent.
There was a hour-plus meeting involving Cardinals president John Mozeliak and agents Joel Wolfe and Adam Katz here Sunday night, and word from someone familiar with those talks is that it was not about their even more high-profile client Giancarlo Stanton but was about “pitching,” presumably including Darvish.
While the Cardinals are seen with the Giants as one of the two main pursuers of Stanton, along with the Phillies, the Stanton talks are not at that stage where the agents are involved; Stanton has a full no-trade, so eventually he and his reps will have a chance to talk to teams, but that isn’t a necessity yet as the Marlins are still investigating the market.
The trade market isn’t expected to be flush with starters, so eventually the Cardinals may have to look even closer at Arrieta and Darvish. The Rays, as usual, have pitchers who look like they could become trade targets, though Rays people say they have no great interest in dealing ace Chris Archer. They also have Jake Odorizzi, who would draw interest.
The Cardinals want to replace their own free agent starter Lance Lynn and should have the wherewithal to do so. The are a high-revenue, extremely profitable team, and if they can somehow find a match, they also have a stash of excellent pitching prospects, including Alex Reyes, Sandy Alcantara, Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty.
The Cardinals could also look to re-sign Lynn, who like the other eight stars who received the $17.4 million qualifying offer will turn it down, or possibly Rays free agent Alex Cobb.
But if they are unable to swing a trade for a top starter –not easy — look for them to be a prime player for either Darvish or Arrieta.
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