Guardians Trade Targets - It's time for Chris Antonetti to spend from the deep farm system

Cleveland Guardians v New York Mets - Game Two
Cleveland Guardians v New York Mets - Game Two / Mike Stobe/GettyImages
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1. Jordan Walker - OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Jordan Walker
Jordan Walker at the plate versus the Atlanta Braves / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Jordan Walker is the number one ranked prospect in the Cardinals organization and all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

Walker is the real deal - as one would expect for a prospect that is ranked at the top of an overwhelming list of bright, young talent. In 20 games with the Cardinals this season, he batted .274/.321/.397 with five extra-base hits before abruptly being optioned to Triple-A Memphis. In 21 games with the Redbirds, he has struggled to come to - batting only .217/.313/.337. Walker also sported a 25.6% strikeout rate in the majors, while being punched out slightly less in Triple-A at 21.9%.

Despite Walker's shortcomings so far in this young season, his profile will always be capable of bringing a boom stick into any lineup card. In 2022, he batted .306/.388/.510 with 19 home runs and 31 doubles. Fifty extra base hits in a season is impressive no matter what the level, and Walker has plenty of time to grow into the prowess that he has shown sparks of.

It is strange that the Cardinals optioned him so quickly, but perhaps they do not believe that he's ready to take on full time major league duties just yet. A strikeout rate over twenty percent without the slugging is not ideal for any team, especially in a corner outfield position. For reference, Aaron Judge is striking out at a 30% clip, but he's slugging .642. There's no team in baseball that would not trade those strikeouts for that pop.

The Cardinals are currently fielding a rotating committee of starting outfielders and Tyler O'Neill is nowhere near returning to baseball activities, so it's not unreasonable to believe that this would be a hard "NO." from Cardinals management if approached about a trade. But, that does not mean that a deal is impossible. Everyone has a price at the end of the day, and that was proven in the blockbuster Juan Soto trade that saw San Diego unload it's farm system for the coveted slugger.

A potential trade with the Cardinals may look like this: Cleveland would send Shane Bieber in return for Jordan Walker, Tink Hence, Cooper Hjerpe, and Joshua Baez. If Bieber is not enough to get that deal done alone, they could sweeten the deal with one of Logan Allen or Aaron Civale. As much as losing Bieber would sting the fanbase, this is a situation that results in addition via subtraction. This would afford the team the chance to call up Gavin Williams and get a no doubt everyday starter in the outfield.