MLB Rumors: Will Cardinals Flip Just-Acquired Liberatore for Arenado or Betts?

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On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals reportedly agreed to a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays acquiring well-regarded pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore in a six-piece deal. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, St. Louis is moving OF Jose Martinez, OF Randy Arozarena and a Compensation A pick (after 1st round) to the Rays for Liberatore, a low-level catching prospect and Compensation B pick (post-2nd).

The move to acquire Liberatore, however, may just be an initial step in St. Louis dealing for Rockies All-Star Nolan Arenado. According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, a deal for the star 3B seems "inevitable," whether that be by Opening Day or by the July trade deadline. USA Today's Bob Nightengale notes that Liberatore is the type of high-level prospect Colorado would likely want in a possible trade for Arenado. Passan reported Tuesday that Colorado is intrigued by St. Louis as a trade partner.

The Cardinals have just three players signed beyond 2021, giving them the financial flexibility needed to take on most or all of the seven years and $234 million remaining on Arenado's contract. The one potential road block is their commitment to aging third baseman Matt Carpenter, who is under contract for two more years and $39 million, with a vesting option for 2022.

In acquiring Liberatore, there is also speculation the Cardinals are setting up a deal with the Red Sox in exchange for MVP outfielder Mookie Betts. Betts has been the topic of trade rumors throughout the offseason, with the Dodgers often floated as another possible destination.

Check out the latest rumors and notes from around MLB:

  • Shortly before Christmas, the Indians reportedly asked teams for their "best and final offers" for All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. (Ken Ronsenthal, The Athletic)
  • On Wednesday, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti reiterated that he expects Lindor to be the team's Opening Day shortstop. (Mandy Bell, MLB.com)
  • The Twins are among a number of teams looking to sign free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, but if they can't strike a deal with Donaldson, they might look to make a trade for a player at any number of positions. (Dan Hayes, The Athletic
  • A possible trade market for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Wilson Contreras hasn't been what the team once hoped. (Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma, The Athletic)
  • The Phillies are looking for a righthanded hitting complement to Adam Haseley in CF. (Jon Morosi, MLB Network)
  • The Yankees have agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran catcher Chris Iannetta. (Bryan Hoch, MLB.com)
  • The Pirates have officially signed outfielder Guillermo Heredia to a one-year deal.
  • The Jays and Brandon Drury have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2.05 million contract. (Jon Heyman, MLB Network)