According to Rob Biertempfel, the St. Louis Cardinals are eyeing Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche as a possible trade target. David Freese, the normal starting third baseman in St. Louis, recently went down for the season with an ankle injury, leaving the Cardinals looking for a replacement. The Cardinals currently trail the Cincinnati Reds by half a game in the NL Central race, and sit one and a half games back in the NL Wild Card race, tied for second with the Philadelphia Phillies, and trailing the San Francisco Giants.
In order for any trade to work, LaRoche would have to make it to the Cardinals on waivers. The Cardinals have the tenth priority on LaRoche, as he would have to get past Arizona, Chicago, Houston, Washington, Milwaukee, Florida, New York, Los Angeles, and Colorado, in that order. If LaRoche made it to the Cardinals, all it would take is an agreement between the Pirates and Cardinals. Any player on the St. Louis 40-man roster that the Cardinals wanted to trade would have to go through waivers, although this wouldn’t be an issue, since the Pirates have the number one waiver claim. Players who aren’t on the 40-man rosters don’t need to go through waivers. The key to any potential deal is LaRoche reaching the Cardinals through waivers, which isn’t guaranteed.
LaRoche is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2011, and has three years of control remaining. He’s lost his starting role with the Pirates, and really has no place to play at this point. LaRoche has worked at second base, but he is blocked there by Neil Walker, and he’s not starting over Pedro Alvarez at third base. LaRoche is also out of options, which means he either has to be in the majors next year, or he has to be designated for assignment.
The Pirates don’t have to trade LaRoche, so they do have some leverage here, but that leverage is limited since they can only negotiate with one team. The value of LaRoche is also low at this point, with very little expected in return. This whole situation eerily reflects the Jose Bautista situation from two years ago, when the Pirates traded Bautista in August at a low value, getting Robinzon Diaz in return.