MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Cardinals looking at a pair of Royals for center field

Finding a legitimate center fielder is a top priority for the St. Louis Cardinals . Randal Grichuk has done an OK job out there the last two seasons but he fits best in the corner, and the team wants an above-average gloveman in center.

In addition to their reported interest in free agent Dexter Fowler , the Cardinals also have their eye on a pair of trade candidates with their cross-state rivals: Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals .

The Royals are in a tough spot right now because most of their core players can become free agents after the 2017 season. Kansas City could either go all-in on 2017 and try to win with this core one last time or blow it all up and starting looking toward the future. That is not an enviable position.

Trading Cain and trading Dyson would be two very different moves. Trading Cain would be a true rebuilding decision. He’s spent most of the last two seasons as their regular No. 3 hitter and is one of the team’s best all-around players. Dyson is underrated, though he’s not a regular, and trading him would be more about restructuring than rebuilding.

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The Cardinals are looking at Lorenzo Cain, left, and Jarrod Dyson for their center field opening. USATSI

Ideally the Cardinals would add a center fielder who could hit leadoff, allowing them to slot Matt Carpenter lower in the lineup in a more traditional run production spot. It’s worth noting both Cain and Dyson will be free agents next offseason, so they’re not long-term buys. Both are over 30 as well, so signing them long-term might not be in the team’s best interest.

Other potential center field trade targets include Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees , Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox and Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds . All three are reportedly on the trade block. Fowler, Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez are the top available free agent center fielders.

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