ST. LOUIS — It seems like a yearly ritual, right?
Inevitably, a pitcher at Cardinals camp is going to land on the injured list to start the season.
This year, the injury bug struck early, and big. Both Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes are expected to miss opening day.
Flaherty has a tear in his right shoulder and received a Platelet Rich Plasma(PRP) injection to cut down on the inflammation. Alex Reyes (who was likely set for a reliever role) was diagnosed with a frayed labrum and received a stem cell injection.
So yeah, not great.
And looking at the Cardinals' rotation depth, this was not a team that could sustain much damage to its starters.
Of course, you feel good about Adam Wainwright, but the reality is that he's still a 40-year-old pitcher.
Miles Mikolas pitched in just nine games in 2021 due to injury. Are you trusting he can make it through an entire season healthy?
Dakota Hudson looked good in his return from Tommy John surgery in 8.2 innings at the end of last season, but he's still a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. That's never a sure bet.
Steven Matz is in his first year as a Cardinal and looks promising, but I don't think too many St. Louis fans are confident riding with him as their No. 1 or No. 2 starter if it comes to it.
Jake Woodford and Johan Oviedo have shown some flashes, but I wouldn't think there are many fans overly confident in them, either.
Throw names like Drew VerHagen, Packy Naughton, Aaron Brooks and Zach McAllister into the mix and you don't have a whole lot of options that make you feel great.
From the outside looking in, it's incredibly apparent this team needs at least one more arm to bolster the rotation.
Lucky for the Cardinals, there's a team out west who seems content to tear their entire roster to the ground. Hello, Oakland A's!
The A's have already traded three of their best players (starter Chris Bassitt to the Mets, first baseman Matt Olson to the Braves and third baseman Matt Chapman to the Blue Jays), so the implosion is well underway.
Two more of their starters, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas have found their way into trade rumors as well, with the pair both likely to be dealt.
The Cardinals need to step up and get one of them on their roster ASAP.
Montas might be the smarter acquisition, but he'd likely cost more. A righty, the 29-year-old had a 13-9 record with a 3.37 ERA for the Athletics last season in 32 starts. He finished sixth in the AL Cy Young race. He has a lower salary than Manaea and has two years of control left.
Manaea, a lefty, is a year older than Montas and has a higher salary. In fact, right now Manaea is the highest-paid player on the Oakland roster. Manaea will be a free agent after the 2022 season. In 2021, Manaea was 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA for the Athletics. He tossed two complete-game shutouts as well. You probably know him best from his no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox in 2018.
Whatever the best deal Cardinals President John Mozeliak gets for either of these guys, he needs to take it.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported on Wednesday that Oakland is more focused on trading Manaea right now before deciding how to deal with moving Montas.
We've seen that before from the Marlins with the whole Marcell Ozuna/Christian Yelich situation. Don't believe the A's. They're both up for grabs.
And this isn't a "mortgage your future" type deal. The best prospects are off-limits, but I don't think you'll need them to pull off a deal, especially for Manaea. The A's want to cut costs and cut their losses before these guys move on to greener pastures once they're able to do so.
The fact is that someone is going to land these starters. With not a whole lot of proven options currently in the rotation, the Cardinals need to be the team that gets one of them.