When debating whether a team won or lost a trade, it’s always difficult to put a final grade on the deal until all players involved have finished their careers. However, after a historic National League Cy Young Award balloting, it’s looking more and more like the St. Louis Cardinals got the short end of a much-discussed 2017 trade with the Miami Marlins.
With two former St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospects getting Cy Young votes on Wednesday, a trade is looking worse by the day in the Gateway City
In December of 2017, the Marlins traded Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for four prospects, including ninth-ranked prospect Sandy Alcantara and 13th-ranked prospect Zac Gallen. At the time, the swap was intended to give the Cardinals a big bat in their lineup, but the price would prove to be heavy in the future.
Ozuna played two seasons in St. Louis (2018-19), posting a .262/.327/.451 slash line with 52 home runs and 177 RBI and a 107 OPS+ in 278 games. Unlike in his other two stops during his career so far (Miami and the Atlanta Braves), while in St. Louis, Ozuna did not place on any NL MVP ballots or earn a Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, or All-Star Game appearance.
The numbers were certainly not eye-popping for Ozuna in St. Louis before he moved on to the Braves before the 2020 season.
While the impact of the trade was a two-year blip in St. Louis, the ripples have been bigger outside the Midwest when looking at what Alcantara and Gallen have done since the swap.
On Wednesday, Alcantara was a unanimous choice for the NL Cy Young Award, becoming the first-ever Marlins pitcher to earn the honor. Down the list of those receiving votes for the award was Gallen, who finished fifth overall in his fourth season with the Arizona Diamondbacks after being sent there at the 2019 MLB trade deadline.
Gallen, who is still arbitration-eligible for the 2023 campaign, posted a 2.54 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and NL-leading 0.913 WHIP last season. His 5.9 hits allowed per nine innings was the best of any MLB starter. Alcantara, meanwhile, logged an MLB-best 228.2 innings and six complete games on his way to a 14-9 mark, 2.28 ERA, 2.99 FIP, and 0.980 WHIP.
All of those numbers certainly would look good in St. Louis, where the Cardinals are reportedly happy with the rotation depth they have for the 2023 campaign, including the return of veteran Adam Wainwright. Still, it’s likely that if the Cardinals could turn back time, they’d keep both of their pitching prospects who have turned into aces for other teams.