ST. LOUIS -- As the Cardinals continue shopping for a shortstop, it would seem that Wednesday evening's mega-trade between the Rangers and Tigers eliminated one possible trade target from their list.
Upon the start of the Hot Stove season, the Rangers made it no secret that they were willing to trade a middle infielder for the right return. The organization had an apparent logjam looming, with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar and two rising youngsters (Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor) to contend for a pair of infield starting jobs.
Of that bunch, Andrus seemed the most likely match for St. Louis. Kinsler would not have addressed the shortstop need, and Profar would have cost the Cardinals considerably in terms of prospects. Sardinas and Odor would not have helped the Cardinals in their desire to get a Major League-ready shortstop.
Targeting Andrus would have required a financial commitment (he is owed $126 million through 2022) and cost the Cardinals some of their young pitching, but he would have been a premium long-term answer at a position where St. Louis needs help.
Texas' interest in shopping Andrus, however, likely ended Wednesday when Kinsler was traded to the Tigers for Prince Fielder. The move opens second base up for Profar, which means Andrus can stay at short. Unless the Rangers intend to seriously pursue free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano, they no longer have a need to free up middle infield space.
"We never felt pressure to deal one of our middle infielders, but other teams felt we had to," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said after the Kinsler-Fielder trade. "This clears it up."
Where the Cardinals will go to upgrade at shortstop remains unclear. Stephen Drew would be the best free-agent fit, but his price and desired contract length are expected to be high due to the number of teams showing interest.
Other clubs might become willing trade partners with the Cardinals, but they, too, are going to have high demands. Aware that the Cards have a glut of young talent and an obvious shortstop need, they can ask big.
Arizona has a wealth of young middle infielders and therefore has the depth to part with one. The Angels (Erick Aybar ) and Orioles (J.J. Hardy ) could be interested if a deal could net them some pitching, a need both organizations have this offseason.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.