In light of recent moves, I think the Rangers and Cards could be trade partners despite their... past...
The Arenado trade leaves the Cards with one expendable Matt Carpenter. He has 18.5 mil remaining on his contract for 21’ with a vesting option for 22’. He’d be a bench bat at best in St. Louis, and an entirely too expensive one for that matter.
That leads us to the Big Stink: Rougned Odor. Odor, on the other hand, has two years 24 mil remaining on his deal (12 mil AAV) with a club option worth 13.5 mil in 23’. He’s been pushed out of his position recently by the up-and-coming Nick Solak who’s expected to be the opening day 2B in Texas. In addition to Odor would be the Rangers' 2019 Minor League Player of the Year, Curtis Terry. Terry does a lot of... this:
Curtis Terry might not be a well known prospect, but the guy can absolutely rake. His minor-league career line reads as follows: .291/ .359/ .516/ .875. Insanity. Though there is something holding him back, and that is his age. He is 24, and will be 25 come October though he is only projected to be in High-A this season. When he does reach the majors, he would hit yet another hurdle. He wouldn't have a spot. Nate Lowe, Ronald Guzman, Willie Calhoun, and Khris Davis occupy the 1B/DH roles that Terry would be able to play right now, but in a year's time how will that situation look? Davis is guaranteed to be gone, Willie needs to prove it or move it and the same can be said for Guzman. The other real lock is Lowe in addition to the near MLB-ready Sam Huff who would DH when not catching.
So would Terry have a spot? Maybe not with the Rangers, but he would probably have a better shot in St. Louis. Yes, they have Goldschmidt under contract for another 4 years, but Terry could also sneak in as their DH. The DH in the NL has long been a popular fan query though 2022 looks to finally be the year where it gets implemented for good. The implementation of the DH would give Terry a clear shot to be on one of the best Cardinals' teams we've seen in years.
Why the deal could happen:
Both Carpenter and Odor have floated into mediocrity in recent years (sunk is another way to put it), and their respective teams have been trying to find outs for a while. Carpenter is no longer part of the Cards’ future plans, and with 1 year left on his deal there’s really no reason for him to be riding the bench with 18 mil still invested in him. Odor was once thought to be a future all-star in Texas, but has since fallen to the Odor we know and love today. He’s still only 27, but his lack of improvement has began to make the organization impatient in recent years.
Where they fit:
With the recent departure of Elvis Andrus, the Rangers look to be stuck between a rock and a hard place with their upcoming 3B decision. Either they move Odor to 3B for the first time in his career or they sign a stopgap for Jung and proceed to make Odor an overpaid and under-performing bench bat. The acquisition of Carpenter would take Odor out of the unnecessary bench role while giving the Rangers a one year stopgap to the highly-touted Josh Jung. And while Texas has an influx of left-handed bats, the swapping of Odor would negate that issue (and it’s only for one season).
Odor’s arrival in St. Louis would make him the primary 2B there as Kolten Wong’s tenure as a Red Bird appears to be over. That move would push the young Tommy Edman into a utility role for the upcoming season(s) as well. By the way, despite the St. Louis crowd’s goo-gooing over Edman recently, it is worth noting that he took a significant step back last season from his exciting 2019 campaign. Most notably, his BABIP fell from .346 in 2019 to a more realistic .301 in 2020. Never through his minor-league career did he ever show signs of being the player he was in 19’ except for in one 66 game stint in low-A during 2016. A utility role better fits his player profile over being the starting 2B.
Carpenter is in line to make 18.5 mil in 21', and is almost 100% guaranteed to not get his vesting option picked up for 22'. Odor has two years 24 mil remaining at 12 AAV with a club option worth 13.5 mil lined up for 23'.
The main kicker in this deal for Texas is the money. In 21' they'd take on an additional 6.5 mil (18.5 - 12), but in 22' Carp's deal would expire and they'd be eating 3 mil of Odor's contract that year; in turn, saving 9 million dollars in 2022. That money can then go be spent in the free agent SS pool of 22' or on some much needed starting pitching.
On the other hand, the Cards would recieve an immediate 6.5 mil in relief with the departure of Carpenter, and then in 2022 it would fall 3 mil more. Though if they would've just let Carp walk after 2021 then they would've gotten 18.5 mil in relief all at once, and they wouldn't have had to pay 9 mil to Odor in 2022. That's when you have to wonder if Terry and Odor is worth that price... and I think it is. You get a future potential breakout slugger on a rookie contract in late 22' along with a new change of scenery candidate at 2B. Odor will put up 20-30 homers in the bottom of that St. Louis order, and as a lefty that could provide good value to a team lacking that kind of player. Anything more than that is icing.
Literally the only thing wrong with this:
The three words that nobody ever wants to hear in their lives or in their families’ lives… No. Trade. Clause. Yes, Carpenter has a NTC. A dampener for sure, but as we have seen with the recent Elvis Andrus trade; a player might be willing to drop his NTC if it is in return for him getting a starting role. Though to be fair, the Rangers and A's are in different situations as franchises, and that would surely make a decision in a player dropping his NTC or not.
The final deal:
Cardinals get: Rougned Odor + 3 mil and Curtis Terry,
Rangers get: Matt Carpenter
The Cards would cut an old, expensive, excess player in exchange for a power hitting prospect and a younger, higher potential player with 3 million dollars. The Rangers would get a viable stopgap for Jung while cutting 9 mil off of the payroll for 2021.