Carlson stays, DeJong and Flaherty go as Cardinals are high-sellers at Trade Deadline

It was a wild day for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the hours leading up to their first game of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, the Cardinals were, as expected, high sellers at the trade deadline. It was something that was actually unusual of the organization, considering how dormant they’ve been in years past.

Over the past few days, the Cardinals already had traded away reliever Jordan Hicks to the Blue Jays, and starter Jordan Montgomery, along with reliever Chris Stratton, to the Texas Rangers.

But on Tuesday, the sale continued.

First to be dealt was Paul DeJong. DeJong, along with cash from the Cardinals for minor league righty Matt Svanson.

DeJong, 30, burst on the scene in the majors with St. Louis with a 123 wRC+ for the Cardinals in 2017, hitting 25 home runs and garnering a second place Rookie of the Year finish. It was enough to satisfy management, as in March of the following year, the Cards inked him to a six-year, $26MM extension.  That deal includes a $12.5MM club option with a $2MM buyout for 2024, plus a $15MM option with a $1MM buyout for ’25.  For the remainder of the 2023 season, DeJong is owed about $3MM. 

Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are covering buyouts and half of DeJong’s remaining salary.

Unfortunately, over the past three seasons, the money did not equate to success on the field. It got to the point where DeJong was demoted to Triple-A Memphis for three months. He’s improved offensively this year, but still has become extremely expendable for the Cardinals.

For the next few hours, the phones were ringing, and the rumors were swirling. The biggest name that was coming up was outfielder Dylan Carlson, who was reported to be “heavily tied” to the New York Yankees in regards to a potential deal.

But Carlson stayed safe.

Unlike Jack Flaherty.

10 minutes before the deadline, it was announced that the Orioles acquired Flaherty from the Cardinals in exchange for infielder César Prieto, left-hander Drew Rom and right-hander Zack Showalter.

Not too long ago, Flaherty seemed to be a burgeoning ace in St. Louis. He tossed 151 innings over 28 starts in 2018, allowing 3.34 earned runs per nine innings. He followed that up with an even better showing in 2019, dropping his ERA to 2.75 in 196 1/3 over 33 starts. He struck out 29.9% of batters faced that year while walking just 7.1%, finishing fourth in the voting for National League Cy Young.

Sadly, injuries and inconsistency have taken its toll on the 27-year old. Flaherty, who was touted as the next “ace” of the Cardinals rotations, has stayed healthy all year, starting 20 games and throwing 109 2/3 innings already, but it goes alongside a dismal 4.43 ERA. The first-place Orioles, meanwhile, hope to help Flaherty find his footing in the future.

As for the Cardinals, they now have a slew of prospects and minor leaguers to build with to create (hopefully) a solid foundation in 2024 and beyond.

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