St. Louis Cardinals Rumors: Matt Adams Has Never Been A More Valuable Trade Chip

Come August 1 we'll be able to enjoy this breakout on its own merits, but I think it's worth phrasing this way at least once, as we get deep into MLB trade rumors season: If the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in trading for a front-line pitcher, vaguely blocked first base prospect Matt Adams has never been more valuable. After a AA season that suggested he might be a league-average first baseman, Adams has found another gear in his first exposure to AAA--after a home run Tuesday night he's hitting .363/.391/.693 in 179 at-bats for the Memphis Redbirds.

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He might not be an A-prospect yet; the 86 pedestrian at-bats in the majors drag down his numbers, and his walk rate is still unacceptable for a big slugger. But this kind of dominance is what separates future star first basemen from acceptable first basemen who hit like stars in the minor leagues; for an example, check out Ryan Howard's rapid advances toward a 1.100 OPS in the minors.

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Speaking of Ryan Howard--the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs, who traded for the even-more-dominant Anthony Rizzo last year, probably couldn't use Adams, which makes it hard to construct a package around him for Cole Hamels or Ryan Dempster. But if the Milwaukee Brewers were looking to use Zack Greinke to replace Prince Fielder, and their primary concerns in doing so were mass and gaudy home run power, they could certainly do worse.

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