Reports: Trevor Rosenthal Could Spark Trade Interest

Jun 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) throws against the Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) throws against the Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals obviously think less of Trevor Rosenthal after demoting him from their closer role earlier this summer, but he still may be targeted by contenders who want to built bullpen depth.

Amidst all the discussion surrounding Major League Baseball’s upcoming August 1 trade deadline, much of the talk has been about guys like New York Yankees lefties Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, and more recently, Kansas City Royals closer Wade Davis. Those pitchers will surely command major return value, though, whether it be established major-league players or premium prospects.

Because of the relative lack of available premium relief help available, some teams will need to explore alternative options if they want to add extra bullpen depth. Jon Heyman of MLB Network and FanRag Sports certainly had a creative suggestion for those teams on Sunday afternoon:

While Heyman seems to be going out on a limb a bit with this suggestion, it’s not a bad one at all.

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Rosenthal would likely be helped by a change of scenery;

history suggests that

closers almost never regain their role with the same team after they’re removed from ninth-inning duties, so it’s going to be difficult for the Cardinals to get back the proper value for the $5.6 million that they owe Rosenthal this season, not to mention the likely raises that he’ll get in arbitration over the next two years.

In addition, the relationship between Rosenthal and the Cardinals fan base may be fractured beyond repair thanks to his subpar performance this season; he recently was booed by fans at Busch Stadium after a poor outing against the Miami Marlins, and he deleted his Twitter account in what can likely be attributed to the high volume of hate tweets that he’s received from Cardinals fans lately.

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Rosenthal has had a rough season in 2016, posting a 5.29 ERA and a 1.95 WHIP while allowing opponents to hit .298 against him. He’s walked 24 hitters in 32 1/3 innings and has blown four saves, which spurned his demotion from the closer role in late June.

It must still be considered, though, that Rosenthal is less than a year removed from being one of the league’s elite closers. In 2015, he had 48 saves, posting an ERA of 2.10, a WHIP of 1.27, and a .238 opponent batting average while striking out 83 and walking just 25 over 68 2/3 innings.

While Rosenthal now seems to be explicitly barred from pitching in pressure situations, the potential still seems to be there for him to become an elite reliever again. The fact that Rosenthal has now thrown two straight scoreless innings and is still averaging 97.19 MPH on his four-seam fastball this season only makes him a more attractive commodity.

While Heyman specifically mentioned Washington as a spot that could be a good fit for Rosenthal, there are many other contenders in need of bullpen depth that could be good trade partners for the Cardinals: San Francisco, Cleveland, Boston, and Texas, to name a few. If Rosenthal were to be traded, it’d be interesting to see what kind of value he could bring back.

While he’s been one of the league’s worst relievers this year, his premium velocity and strong track record would likely bring back at least a few mid-level prospects for the Cardinals. Consider, for instance, that the Cardinals gave up a pitcher who’s now one of the league’s best bullpen arms, Miami righthander Kyle Barraclough, in exchange for a pitcher who was in a similar situation to Ronsethal’s a year ago, Steve Cishek.

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If the Cardinals were to move Rosenthal, they could bring back Miguel Socolovich, who was optioned to Memphis on Sunday, or perhaps finally unleash top prospect Alex Reyes, who would bring velocity even better than Rosenthal’s out of the ‘pen.