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Report: Cardinals close to getting Holliday from A’s

Rumors about the A’s and Cardinals working on a trade for Matt Holliday have been swirling for the past couple days, and according to Tim Kurkjian of the deal is now on the verge of becoming official:

The Athletics and Cardinals are close to completing a trade that would send outfielder Matt Holliday to St. Louis in exchange for third baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

Last night our own Matthew Pouliot analyzed the potential St. Louis-Oakland deal and concluded that Brett Wallace was a reasonable haul for Holliday, so under that assumption the A’s would be doing very well by also picking up 2008 second-round pick Shane Peterson and 2007 first-round pick Clayton Mortensen (although neither has been all that impressive since being drafted).

In fact, a Wallace-Peterson-Mortensen return would be fairly similar in terms of overall value to the three-player package of Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith that the A’s sent to the Rockies for Holliday in November. Of course, simply treading water in the value department while paying Holliday a whole bunch of money isn’t what the A’s had in mind at the time of the original deal.

On the other hand, merely recouping that value is pretty good with Holliday hitting .286/.378/.454 after batting .319/.386/.552 in Colorado. For the Cardinals, giving up last year’s first- and second-round picks along with a potentially useful 24-year-old pitcher would be a very steep price for two months of Holliday, but the ability to either re-sign him at a discount or take draft picks when he walks as a free agent balances the scales.

All in all, Kurkjian’s reported 3-for-1 deal strikes me as a reasonable move for both sides and perhaps a slight “win” for the A’s. Many people believe that Wallace will become a star and at the very least he looks likely to develop into an impact hitter, but I’m somewhat skeptical about his true ceiling and if he can’t stick at third base defensively the Cardinals don’t really have a spot for him as long as that El Hombre guy is around.

Holliday represents a significant upgrade for the Cardinals, who’ve been searching for a big bat to hit behind Albert Pujols and rank 14th in the league with a measly .635 OPS from their left fielders. Two strong months from Holliday and a pair of draft picks if he leaves as a free agent could get them into the playoffs and then give them a shot to select the next Wallace and Peterson come June.