With less than an hour remaining before Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline, the Cardinals pulled off a deal that usually would wait until August.
And that was it.
Despite days of conversations and text messages and even a few 11th-hour attempts to woo another team, the Cardinals reached the deadline without the addition of a desired starter.
The Cardinals traded infielder Jedd Gyorko to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for lefthanded reliever Tony Cingrani, 30, and minor-league righthander Jeffry Abreu, 19. The Dodgers also received cash.
The Cardinals explored multiple deals for a starting pitcher, ranging from short-term additions to pitchers with years remaining on their contracts. They approached the Mets about Zack Wheeler, and the asking price was a major-league ready or everyday outfielder. The Cardinals balked at the cost of Tyler O'Neill or Harrison Bader. The Cardinals also engaged with the Diamondbacks on Robbie Ray, and Arizona's asking price for the lefty was steep. They wanted at least two of the Cardinals' top prospects. The Cardinals encountered a similar block with Texas on Mike Minor. Neither of those players were moved before the deadline.
The Cardinals attempted to talk teams off of Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman, but in most cases were unsuccessful.
“When you spend seven straight days in a room working on something, you tend to want to see something come out of it," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "So, there’s a high level of frustration, even for us. But we answer to people and have to be responsible for decisions that come out of it and we just didn’t feel we could get there.”
The were not involved in a pursuit of Arizona ace Zack Greinke, who was traded to Houston. Greinke had the Cardinals on his no-trade list, and there was no sense he would waive that.
Cingrani is out for the season, will not pitch for the Cardinals, and he will be a free agent at the end of the season. The Dodgers need to alleviate some cash issues to avoid a luxury tax, so they moved his contract in the deal.
Gyorko was moved to the 60-day injured list on Tuesday, and the Cardinals pulled him back from a planned rehab assignment. A source told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday that they were looking to trade the infielder and that it was unlikely he'd finish Wednesday in the organization.
Gyorko has not played since June 7. He has missed time with lower back trouble, a calf strain, and then wrist surgery.
He is eligible to come off the 60-day IL after the Cardinals visit Dodger Stadium next week for a three-game series.
The versatile infielder hit 30 homers in his first season with the Cardinals in 2016 and 50 over his first two, but he's had his role on the team nudged to the peripheral of the roster with the emergence of Yairo Munoz and Tommy Edman this season. Gyorko is in the final guaranteed year of an extension he signed with San Diego for a trade, after the 2015 season, to the Cardinals.
The Padres are picking up $5 million of his $13 million salary this season.
If baseball still allowed waiver deals after July 31, Gyorko would have moved in August after he cleared waivers and after he had proven his health during a minor-league rehab stint. The hard deadline of 3 p.m. St. Louis time Wednesday has pushed these deals earlier into the season.
Cingrani, a veteran of seven major-league seasons, is on the 60-day injured list (shoulder surgery) and has not pitched this season. Formerly with the Cincinnati Reds, Cingrani has a career record of 12-22 with a 4.01 earned-run average in 164 games.
Abreu is 2-0 with a 4.66 ERA in six games this season for the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers.
“We never got to a point we felt we could get a deal done,” Mozeliak said. “We explored starting pitching first and foremost. From people’s standpoints, we just weren’t matching up. Unfortunately we didn’t get what we hoped to do, but we still really like our team and feel like we’re getting healthy at the right time.”
This story will be updated.