#2 Framber Valdez for Brendan Donovan, Ryan Helsley and Dylan Carlson
The Cardinals are in desperate need of starting pitching. The Astros need depth and bullpen help. The match makes a lot of sense.
Ryan Helsley would be an immediate asset for Houston, giving them a dominant back end of the bullpen arm to pair in leverage innings with Abreu and Pressly. He'd go a long way towards alleviating the loss of Hector Neris. Over 5 seasons, Helsely has a career ERA of 2.83 with a 1.10 WHIP.
He has been especially dominant the last two seasons. In the last 87 games, Helsely holds a 1.69 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP and 13 SO/9. Landing a reliever like Helsley would solidify the Astros bullpen as championship caliber again.
Brendan Donovan is a very versatile utility man. Donovan plays 3B, LF and RF all well above average, but he does struggle defensively at 2B. He also can play 1B. As Mauricio Dubón's role in center field has grown, Houston could easily use Donovan as a utility man all over the infield, but he'd likely take over for Alex Bregman in 2025. Donovan is worth 7 DRS at 3B in only 217 career innings there.
In 221 career games, he's hitting .283 with a .779 OPS and 120 OPS+. Those are very solid numbers, and his Statcast metrics scream breakout incoming. Donovan is in the 91st percentile in xBA and 80th percentile in xwOBA. His 96th percentile whiff rate and 91st percentile strikeout rate would actually give the Astros a third baseman eerily similar to Bregman in the future.
And Dylan Carlson would be a great buy low option. The one-time top-10 prospect and third place finisher in the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year has struggled in the last two seasons, but all of the tools are still there for a breakout. With the Cardinals deploying so many young options, the path to regular playing time isn't there for Carlson. If Houston can unlock the switch hitter's true potential, their lineup goes to another level.