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Can Sending Adalberto Mondesi Further Down I-70 Net the Royals a Starting Pitcher?

This trade with the St. Louis Cardinals is one that may not seem right at the moment but is one that definitely needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Welcome back to the 29 trades in 29 days series. Every day, I will be taking a look at a new MLB team in an effort to find a trade package that makes sense for the Kansas City Royals to hypothetically pursue. For some ground rules and an example, check out the first installment of the series. Today, let's continue our run with the National League Central as I examine a possible trade involving the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Royals and Cardinals are both MLB teams and both call the state of Missouri their home. Outside of that, these two teams have hardly anything else in common. St. Louis has been a model franchise for years on end, while the Royals have been near or at the bottom of the league outside of 2013-17.

No matter how a season seems to be going for the Cardinals, luck always seems to favor them. A case in point is the 17-game win streak they went on this year to move from playoff afterthought to nearly knocking off the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers in the Wild Card game. The Cardinals' lineup isn’t chock-full of superstars, rather it’s a roster that is built of consistency throughout with players like Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Tyler O’Neill anchoring the middle. Starting pitching has usually always been a strength of the Cardinals as well, as they seem to produce one new breakout pitcher per year.

So, with this rotation of ever-evolving breakout players, it can make nailing down one to trade for a tricky proposition. However, the Royals can offer a couple of things to pique their western rivals' interest.

The Trade:

St. Louis Cardinals Receive: SS Adalberto Mondesi, RP Domingo Tapia

Kansas Coty Royals Receive: SP Dakota Hudson

The Cardinals are set to return most of their starting rotation from last year's squad, as the only notable departures are likely their two rentals in Jon Lester and J.A. Happ. Carlos Martinez and his 6.23 ERA are set to hit the bricks as well. Also, with their number one pitching prospect (Matthew Liberatore) standing a good chance of making the roster out of Spring Training, there’s a good chance Hudson could be on the way out of the rotation.

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Hudson appeared to be one of the future pieces of this Cardinals team but with an injury that caused him to miss pretty much all of this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, 2021 was a bit of a lost year. The Cardinals are always at their best because they are a ruthless organization that is based on results and isn’t afraid to move on from players when their value is on the decline. While Hudson did impress in Triple-A during his rehab assignment and in his two outings in the MLB this year, the Cardinals might be looking to wheel and deal to improve their roster.

The biggest weakness on the Cardinals' roster is shortstop Paul DeJong, as his career has been on a drastic decline since his lone All-Star appearance in 2019. Even though the Cardinals signed DeJong to a new deal, they made sure to give themselves outs in 2024 and 2025 in case something like this were to happen. Unfortunately for them, DeJong's decline has come a lot sooner than expected. As much as I might criticize Mondesi for being overvalued by the Royals despite his pedestrian numbers, he is an upgrade over DeJong and offers far more upside as well.

Tapia will help solidify the Cardinals' bullpen, which is set to lose three key pieces in T.J. McFarland, Luis Garcia, and Andrew Miller. This, in theory, should give the Cardinals a solid backline bullpen rotation consisting of Tapia, Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes.

For the Royals, they get what they need which is a legitimate pitcher to put at or near the top of the rotation while not decreasing in everyday value from the roster. Mondesi is not a guaranteed starter next year for the club, whether it be in the infield, outfield, or at designated hitter. Dayton Moore already hinted at the fact that he couldn’t be relied on in that regard. Mondesi hasn’t played 100 games since 2017.

No matter how many times fans might defend Mondesi and hint at the potential he flashes, keeping him will only hold the team back. Now is the time for the Royals to act like a winning organization and improve the weakness of their team by trading from an area of surplus. Mondesi’s value is probably not going to be higher to any other team than St. Louis, as he is an immediate upgrade and offers potential that while not fully realized, is perhaps still there.

Hudson would give the Royals a consistent and proven starter to help build the pitching staff up from near rock bottom into a respectable unit once again. Kansas City has built the pitching staff off of hopes, dreams, and potential but has yet to add any real proven pitchers into the mix. That needs to change if the Royals are going to become a winning team again and sometimes patience can’t be a virtue when it comes to retooling a baseball team.

Acquiring top-level starting pitching is more important than having a utility player that possibly could be a good player if he manages to stay healthy and pigs were to fly over Crown Vision at Kauffman Stadium. Hudson's recent injury history is what balances this trade out and if he hits, it will have certainly been a worthwhile move on the Royals' behalf.

Read More: Salvador Perez Was Otherworldly Good in 2021, but Can He Sustain It?