St. Louis Cardinals Rumors: Stephen Drew, Yunel Escobar Would Improve Cardinals Infield

The St. Louis Cardinals appear less likely than before to seek out pitching help, thanks to strong performances recently from all five starters and a suddenly hot bullpen, but that's not pulled them out of the trade rumors picture entirely—they still have enough prospects around to throw a haymaker ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, if a way of improving this team emerges. One vector for improvement: Second base in particular and the middle infield in general, which is currently ill-prepared for an injury to the notably injury-prone Rafael Furcal. Stephen Drew and Yunel Escobar are two shortstops who could solve that problem fast, and each is on the trading block.

Each also has his own problems to deal with. Drew has struggled with injuries himself, missing half of 2011 and much of 2012 so far with a broken ankle. J.D. Drew's younger brother has never quite turned into the star many expected him to be, but he's a solidly average shortstop with a bat that falls somewhere between average and above-average, which makes him a very valuable player if he can stay on both feet for the rest of the year. 29 years old, he's got a $10 million mutual option with a $1.35 million buyout for 2013 before becoming a free agent.

Yunel Escobar, meanwhile, has his reputation as a clubhouse pariah to deal with—it followed him from Atlanta, where he was a highly touted young shortstop, to the Toronto Blue Jays, where his bat has collapsed in 2012 after a solid 2011. He's also 29, and at his best he's probably a step better than Drew, with the same bat and better defense. But he's rarely been at his best, lately, and now two teams have been willing to deal him on the cheap to get rid of him.

Neither of these players is a star, but either of them would make an interesting bargain acquisition; if the Cardinals grabbed one he would likely have to move to second base, but he could also count on being the backup shortstop and Furcal's likely replacement in 2014.

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