The D-Backs and Rays are among the clubs with interest in Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Rangers were tied to the hard-throwing righty this afternoon. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote this afternoon that the Yankees also had some interest in Hicks.
Hicks has seemed a likely trade candidate for a while. He’s an impending free agent on a St. Louis club that is openly turning its attention to 2024. He’s having a good season, posting a 3.67 ERA through 41 2/3 innings and climbing back to a high-leverage role. Hicks offers a rare blend of strikeouts (31.2%) and grounders (58.3%). Even with below-average control, his power arsenal is obviously appealing to clubs.
A few days ago, it seemed as if Hicks might surprisingly come off the market. The Athletic’s Katie Woo reported that his camp was in talks with the Cardinals about a potential multi-year extension. However, Goold reported yesterday those conversations hadn’t gained much traction.
Feinsand suggests an extension hasn’t entirely been ruled out. However, Woo echoed Goold’s reporting this afternoon, writing that talks have stalled and a trade seems probable.
Virtually any team with postseason aspirations this season could be a viable suitor. Even clubs that don’t need back-end bullpen help could add a reliever to the middle innings. Arizona has a stronger need than Tampa Bay on paper. The D-Backs rank 23rd in bullpen ERA (4.57) and 19th in strikeout rate (23.2%). The Rays are seventh in ERA (3.74) and 26th in strikeout percentage (22.1%). The Rays’ overall bullpen numbers are dragged down a bit by how often they rely on relievers and bulk pitchers following openers. Only the A’s and Giants have used their bullpen for more innings, which will naturally weigh down their dominance on a rate basis.
Of course, there’s no indication the bidding for Hicks is down to Texas, New York, Arizona and Tampa Bay. The Cardinals’ front office is presumably in conversations with a number of clubs about their trade candidates. Hicks joins Chris Stratton as impending free agent relievers on the St. Louis roster. Starters Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty are also headed to the open market and likely to be dealt this summer. Their markets are mostly unreported, but each of Texas, Arizona and Tampa Bay is also known to be looking for rotation help. Shortstop Paul DeJong figures to move as well.
Those short-term assets — paired with Dylan Carlson, who has gotten increasingly squeezed out of the outfield picture — have seemed St. Louis’ most likely trade pieces. Brendan Donovan and Tommy Edman have drawn interest from other clubs, but Woo unsurprisingly writes the Cardinals aren’t interested in trading them. That’s also true of power-hitting second baseman Nolan Gorman, who has five seasons of club control beyond this one.