The St. Louis Cardinals may or may not become sellers. They rarely do, but 2023 feels different. What they will surely do is listen to trade approaches for some of their best players. Realistically, they are a longshot to make the postseason at this point with a 46-57 record. That doesn’t mean they will go out and trade all their desired players, but some of them are more likely to go than others. If we talk about targets that would fit in the Yankees plans for this year and the future, then Brendan Donovan should definitely be in the conversation.
Donovan, 26, would be a fantastic deadline addition for the Yankees. A gritty player with some added slug this year, he is an on-base machine with incredible defensive versatility. Not only he can play just about every position except for catcher and center field, but he also won a Gold Glove for his ability to do that last year.
The lefty-hitting Donovan added some muscle and geared his swing to hit for more power this year, which sounds amazing given Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field. In 91 games and 360 plate appearances, Donovan is hitting .288/.370/.430 with 11 home runs, 47 runs scored, 34 RBI, five stolen bases, and a 124 wRC+ in 2023. He gets walks in bunches (9.2 percent walk rate) and is awfully difficult to strike out (14.2 percent strikeout rate), too. There are several circumstances and realities that make a deal extremely unlikely, though.
First of all, Donovan’s ability to play the field is compromised by a flexor strain in his throwing hand. He has been DHing for the Cards as of late, but there is no word regarding his future availability (this year, at least) to field and throw. One would think he could play some first and second base eventually for the Yankees in the event they acquire him, but there is nothing set in stone. A big part of his value stems from this ability to be a competent fielder at both infield and outfield corners plus second base.
Let’s just say he could be a very valuable Yankee this year (any hitter with a 124 wRC+ would, to be honest) and extremely valuable for the future, once he regains his full ability to throw and, hence, play the field like he knows how to.
Second, and perhaps more important, he is also very, very cheap in addition to being a solid hitter and a versatile fielder. He is in his second year making the MLB minimum: he would make a similar salary in 2024, and then has three arbitration-eligible seasons between 2025 and 2027. In other words, he has four and a half remaining years of cheap team control. That makes a player very valuable and hard to acquire.
As we have stated several times in this article, bringing in Donovan won’t be easy for the Yankees. However, if they decide he is a reasonable, worthwhile target, the Cardinals could really use some pitching at all levels. The Yanks do have some pitching prospects of note, but most of them are in the low minors and those in the upper levels are unlikely to go or not good enough to pique the Cards’ interest. Every transaction starts with a negotiation, though, and the parties can chat and come up with something that satisfies both sides.
In any case, landing Donovan would be helpful for 2024 and a coup for the future. A player of his profile would fit in to perfection.