That crazy idea, of the St. Louis Cardinals trading David Freese, and whatever other prospects (read: "young pitchers") are desired, to the Philadelphia Phillies for All-Star pitcher Cliff Lee and Viagra-less utility fielder Michael Young, has popped out of the mind of Fox's Ken Rosenthal (who has now Tweeted me that it's "just speculation).
First is financial. Freese has two years of arbitration before he hits free agent eligibility. Let's pencil him in for something around $12M for next year, but no more. Lee, of course, gets $25M a year.
Second is, I do NOT want Viagraless Michael Young. The man is so-so at doubles power, and has almost no HR power any more. Yeah, he's had a recent surge, but I don't trust it to last. Plus, he's a free agent this year, and one that the Cards wouldn't sign.
Because Matt Carpenter would be the long-term answer at 3B, which would then open 2B for the Cards' No. 2 position player prospect, Kolten Wong.
I would trade Freese plus any younger-gun pitcher below Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller for Lee straight up, if the Phils ate part (not necessarily a majority) of his contract.
And, yeah, I'd like to have Lee.
First, I expect him to have at least two more years of 125 or better on OPS+.
Second, he's a lefty, and top-level lefty starters don't grow on trees.
Third, and speaking of, we don't know how well Jaime Garcia will bounce back from his surgery.
Fourth, we don't know if Michael Wacha will develop a consistent third pitch or how well Tyler Lyons or John Gast will pan out. I'll bet more money on Wacha than on Lyons or Gast, though.
Fifth, are you a Cards fan, and you're going to tell me a 1-2-3 of Adam Wainwright, Lee and Miller doesn't make you drool?
Add in that that makes it a lot easier to let Jake Westbrook walk after this year, and apply his salary toward whatever part of Lee's pay is left after you get the Phillies to eat anything. (And, if you're offering a Freese just entering arbitration, they should eat some salary. I'm thinking up to $10M is not unreasonable, and $5M minimum, though, if push came to shove, if I'm the Cards, I consider a trade like this while eating the whole contract. But, that's a last option, and I'd still lean against. The Birds still need to look at the cost of a better shortstop.)
So, there's your trade: Freese plus Lyons or Gast for Lee, period. If the Phils want more, you negotiate but hold the line close. No Wacha, no other staring pitchers at MLB level.
After that 1-2-3 above, you've got Garcia as potential No. 4 then Wacha as No. 5. Top to bottom, the best rotation in the league. And, if Wacha still scuffs it at the start of next year, you find an MLB-replacement guy who didn't make somebody else's 40-man.