By Patrick Kelly
What started off as a somewhat slow offseason for the Cardinals quickly escalated Thursday night with a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for left-handed pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore, the Rays’ pick in Competitive Balance Round B, and catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez. In exchange, the Cardinals traded outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena, plus the Cardinals Competitive Balance Round A draft pick.
Liberatore was the 16th overall draft pick of the Rays in the 2018 amateur draft and is ranked 41st in the prospect watch on MLB.com. He spent last year with the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest league. As a starter, he had a record of 6-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 78.1 innings pitched. Liberatore is projected to be a No. 2 starter, which fits very well next to Jack Flaherty.
This seems to be a trade for the Cardinals that alleviates many of the outfield decisions that had been on the horizon, while also strengthening the pitching for the future. While Although Cardinals gave up good pieces in this trade, the opportunity this gives Tyler O’Neil and Harrison Bader should hopefully help push both of to the next level.
It could also clear the way for the the possibility of Marcell Ozuna returning.