Cardinals hold firm at Trade Deadline

Cardinals hold firm at Trade Deadline

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals entered July positioned to be both buyers and sellers. In the end, however, they did neither.

The 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline passed quietly on Monday, with the Cardinals choosing neither to bolster their roster for a run at a division title in 2017 nor start retooling for the future. The club entered the day at 52-53 and sitting 4 1/2 games behind the Cubs, who were active in acquiring starter Jose Quintana, reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila.

When he was promoted to president of baseball operations on June 30, John Mozeliak predicted that the organization had "a busy July coming up." But while the organization was involved in trade discussions regarding several players, the only deal done was a July 21 swap of Minor League prospects -- Tyler O'Neill for Marco Gonzales.

"There was certainly a level of frustration in the room in trying to do some things, but we also didn't want to do something that, in the long term, we may regret, just to say we did a deal," Mozeliak said Monday. "We approached the last week trying to find ways not only to try and improve the club this year but also with a focus on '18 and '19. And as today unfolded, unfortunately, we never were able to get anything across the finish line."

That means that the Cardinals will enter the final two months of the season with Lance Lynn still a member of their rotation and an overcrowded outfield. The latter is expected to be addressed during the offseason. As for Lynn, he'll play out the rest of this year as a pending free agent.

The Cardinals have not initiated extension talks with the 30-year-old right-hander, and Mozeliak confirmed the organization will "table all of that until the year end." Mozeliak added that momentum never picked up among the teams that had inquired about Lynn's availability.

"One of the things that I did say to Lance Lynn back when I met with him in Chicago is there is a very good chance you stay with us because we're not going to just sell low," Mozeliak said. "There was never anything compelling to us that we thought made sense to just move him to move him."

The Cardinals can still net a compensatory Draft pick -- which would come after Compensation Round B in 2018 -- if they make Lynn a qualifying offer and he declines. The value of the qualifying offer is expected to be around $18 million for one year.

In keeping their 25-man roster intact, the Cardinals' front office provided a signal to its current club that it is not ready to punt on this season. However, the Cardinals also did not improve the roster. The lineup still lacks a middle-of-the-order bat and the bullpen remains unsettled. In a market where few position players moved, the Cardinals never came close to adding an impact hitter.

Mozeliak said he's optimistic that this club will improve with the returns of Stephen Piscotty and Dexter Fowler. A recent resurgence by Trevor Rosenthal could also help stabilize the bullpen. Mozeliak also did not rule out making August additions.

"I do feel like you'll see some trade activity in August," Mozeliak noted. "Yes, there was a flourish of activity there at the final hour of this Deadline, but I still think there were names of players that weren't moved that were very much talked about."

To trade someone now, teams must pass that player through waivers. If a player goes unclaimed, he can be traded anywhere. A team that has a player claimed can either give that player to the club that made the claim, seek to work out a trade with that club or pull the player back. To be eligible for a postseason roster, a player must be with that team by Aug. 31.

Regardless what happens over the next month, the Cardinals are positioned for an active offseason in which they'll address the roster surpluses and deficiencies that remain.

"In a lot of ways," Mozeliak said, "we'll just use the next two months to evaluate what we think we really need to do for '18."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.