Posted on December 14, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
One day after the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins, they’ve pulled off a second trade to free up some room in their outfield. Thursday morning, the Cardinals announced that they have sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics for infield prospects Max Schrock and Yairo Munoz.
For Piscotty, the trade means an important homecoming. Piscotty grew up in the Bay Area and went to college at Stanford. His mother was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year. The Cardinals planned on making an effort this offseason to trade Piscotty to a team that would allow him to be closer to home. Trading him to Oakland is an ideal situation for him and his family right now.
“I don’t know if I can empathize with Piscotty,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said before the trade. “You just hurt for him. You can’t even really go there to understand him and at his age and what it is that he had to endure or what that is like for a family. I think it’s really just understanding that it is very, very difficult. You let him know that you care. You acknowledge. You have compassion. We’re trying to be support for him, and we have to look to do anything we can.”
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On the field, the trade is also a big win for the A’s. Despite struggling during the 2017 season, Piscotty showed in 2015 and 2016 that he can be a productive big league hitter. In his first full major league season in 2016, Piscotty hit .273 with 22 home runs, posting an OPS of .800. Last April, he signed a six-year, $33.5 million deal with the Cardinals. That means he’s on a team-friendly contract through the 2022 season with a $15 million option for 2023.
Piscotty figures to become an everyday player in Oakland’s lineup at one of the corner outfield positions. Matt Joyce is likely to be Oakland’s other corner outfielder this season. The addition of Piscotty should make it easier for the A’s to move Khris Davis to the DH spot full time, a move the A’s were hoping to make next season. If Piscotty can return to the form he had in 2016 alongside Davis and young sluggers like Mark Chapman and Mark Olson, the A’s could have a rather formidable middle of the lineup in 2018.
The players the A’s gave up to get Piscotty were mid-level prospects at best. Munoz was ranked as Oakland’s no. 13 prospect, according to MLB.com. He’s unlikely to be anything more than a utility player in the majors. Schrock was the no. 17 prospect in the A’s farm system. He offers a little more upside as an everyday player. He’s listed as the no. 8 second base prospect in all of baseball.
Aside from adding a couple of prospects, the Cardinals free up space in their outfield to help make room for Ozuna. The St. Louis outfield now consists of Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, and Randal Grichuk. The Cardinals also have prospects in Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader who could be ready to contribute at some point in 2018. That could open the door for the Cardinals to trade another outfielder, perhaps Grichuk, later in the offseason.
Ultimately, this trade should end up being a win for all parties involved. The A’s get a young, talented outfielder who’s on a long-term, team-friendly contract. The Cardinals address an overcrowded outfield and add a couple decent prospects. Most importantly, Piscotty gets to come home and be closer to his family during a time of need.