CHICAGO • The trade deadline usually offers a fair, unvarnished measure of what other teams think of the Cardinals’ talent in the minors and chances in the standings, and with July 31 nearing John Mozeliak was asked Saturday whether his peers see the Cardinals as buyers or sellers this summer.
“They know we’re open for business,” Mozeliak said.
Part of that business is Lance Lynn.
While the Cardinals have fielded interest in multiple players on the big league roster and could use the trade deadline to clear an outfielder and reduce the number of lefties in the bullpen, Lynn stands out as the most prominent player the Cardinals could move.
Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, met with Lynn on Saturday as batting practice started to take him through what has been described as a “very fluid” situation. As many as eight teams scouted his start against the Mets last week, and several teams hunting for starting pitching — from the Dodgers to the Rockies and even the Royals — are presumed to have some level of interest in Lynn.
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The complication is the Cardinals may want to keep him.
“It’s about how we play, if we win games or not,” Lynn said. “That’s been the thing the whole year. We don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s got to do his job and I’ve got to do mine — pitch when it’s my turn.”
Mozeliak declined to go into specific talks he’s had. He has repeatedly described the Cardinals’ situation this month as tricky because the team has played well only in fits and has failed to start a real challenge for the division title. Yet, after losing Saturday and Sunday against the Cubs to complete a 4-6 trip, they remained only 4½ games off the National League Central lead.
“The thing for the Cardinals and my role with the Cardinals is to try and look at what is best for us short-term and also long-term,” Mozeliak said. “Where Lance plays into that – it can be a little muddy. He knows where we stand, and if nothing else has the peace of mind with that knowledge. If that was my name being bandied about it would uncomfortable too, and, look, I’m not trying to have his name bandied about. I would like to squash it and not talk about it. Yet, here we are talking about it. That’s the nature of the business.
“Someone who has been drafted and grown up in our system and for five-plus years has been a key member our major league team and then hear he might be traded?” Mozeliak continued. “For major league players I try to give them some transparency. When you do have a prominent player coming up on free agency, people are trying to decide, ‘What’s next?’”
Some of the other players the Cardinals could entertain offers on, like outfielder Randal Grichuk or one of the lefty relievers, would not be rentals like Lynn. They, and reliever Trevor Rosenthal, would be moved with at least a year of control.
There has been no discussion with Lynn about an extension. Lynn did not rule that out when asked Saturday. “No talks with what that would look like,” he said. “We can go down the stretch here and if I do what I’m capable of doing, then you never know.”