Countdown to Trade Deadline

On a different night, during a different part of the season, there likely wouldn’t be as much speculation about Tommy Pham not being in the lineup last night for the St. Louis Cardinals. After all, the outfielder has just one hit in his last 11 at-bats and Harrison Bader hadn’t started in three games so it was a chance to allow both players to get going.

But with the clock ticking down on the MLB trade deadline of 3pm CT today, any move that could be perceived to indicate a possible deal on the horizon instantly raises question.

Arbitration eligible for the first time after this season, Pham could be an attractive candidate for another team looking to improve their outfield.

Before the game, interim manager Mike Shildt shared the decision would allow Pham to “get a little break today and come off the bench and help us that way.”

Logical enough.

Yet in the bottom of the 9th inning, with one out, the game tied up 4-4, and the winning run at second base, it was Greg Garcia that was sent up to pinch-hit against Colorado’s Adam Ottavino.

No knock on Garcia–who leads the Cardinals in pinch-hits (7) this season and offered a left-handed bat to counter the right-handed Ottavino. Likewise, Pham has only hit .150 (6-40) as a pinch hitter.

Power wasn’t a requirement for the situation, a base hit would have won the game.

Simple baseball explanation.

If this wasn’t less than 24 hours before the trade deadline.

Besides Tommy Pham not playing, it was also noticeable that both Carson Kelly and Tyler O’Neill did not play for Memphis (AAA).

Maybe just coincidence.

After all, playing doesn’t guarantee a player won’t be dealt. Bud Norris threw a scoreless 9th inning last night and as a free agent at the end of this season with 20 saves, the veteran surely would have some appeal to a team looking for bullpen help.

And though he wasn’t in the lineup on Monday, Jose Martinez made a pinch-hit appearance against Chicago in Sunday night’s game.

Prior to Luke Voit being sent to the New York Yankees in a trade, there was a great amount of speculation that it would be Martinez the Cardinals would send to play in pinstripes.

“If there’s a chance or there’s not a chance or something, the hard part of a baseball player is knowing what’s going to happen,” said Martinez on Monday. “I’m here. I’m still a Cardinal and I’m just going to go out there and do my job like I do everyday.”

Martinez knows that he doesn’t have any trade protection or even leverage as an established star with the team to try and lobby to stay in St. Louis, which would be his choice.

“I don’t have to say that because everybody knows I love to be in this clubhouse and this organization,” he said. “These guys have been my family. This is my first organization in the big leagues. I wish I can stay here or whatever is going to happen or something. But if it happens, it’s still going to be baseball.”

Asked if he would rather stay in St. Louis and not play everyday or be traded to a team where he could play all the time, Martinez had the perfect answer for his circumstance…

“I’d rather to have that uniform on in the big leagues,” he chuckled. “Whatever it is, I don’t (want) to go to the minors anymore.”

photo credit: Jasen Vinlove, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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