Home BaseballSt. Louis Cardinals Breaking Down the Cardinals Roster Going Into the Winter Meetings (Position Players)

Breaking Down the Cardinals Roster Going Into the Winter Meetings (Position Players)

by Jason McGrew

The MLB Winter Meetings are here.  The St Louis Cardinals are there hoping to make a few upgrades.  Let’s look at the roster position by position to see where the areas of need really are.  I will list each player with a few pertinent 2022 statistics.  Then I’ll give my opinion on where the team stands at that position.

Andrew Knizner  OPS+ 75, DRS -7
Ivan Herrera  OPS+  -9, DRS -1
Catcher is a huge area of opportunity for this club.  Yadier Molina has retired leaving Knizner and Herrera on the Cardinals 40 man roster.  Knizner has not hit or fielded his position well and seems bound for the label of career backup.  Ivan Herrera was even worse albeit in an extremely small MLB sample size in 2022.  Herrera is still regarded as a solid catching prospect, but there’s no indication that he’s ready to be an everyday catcher on a team that’s trying to compete for a championship.  This is an area the Cardinals front office must find an upgrade for.
Paul Goldschmidt  OPS+ 180,  DRS +2
Juan Yepez  OPS+111,  DRS 0
Paul Goldschmidt is the reigning NL MVP.  Juan Yepez had a strong rookie campaign and will now take Albert Pujols’s place as backup 1B.  He will also play some corner OF and can even fill in at 3B.  Yepez is also a strong candidate for DH.  No moves are needed here.
Brendan Donovan  OPS+ 126,  DRS -1 (at 2B)
Nolan Gorman  OPS+ 106,  DRS -6
Both players are coming off of productive rookie seasons.  Donovan, the human swiss army knife, won a gold glove as Utility player and finished 3rd in rookie of the year voting.  He played a 6 different positions for a combined DRS of +9. Nolan Gorman will get plenty of at bats between being the DH and playing 2B when Donovan needs a day off or is covering another position.  No moves are needed here.
Nolan Arenado  OPS+ 154,  DRS +19
Arenado finished 3rd in MVP voting and won a platinum glove in 2022.  Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman and Juan Yepez can both play at 3B when Arenado needs a day off.  No moves are needed here.
Tommy Edman  OPS+ 108,  DRS +7 (at SS), +12 (at 2B)
Paul DeJong  OPS+ 53,  DRS +5
Tommy Edman is yet another super utility player.  He played in 5 different positions in 2022.  His defense is elite in the middle infield.  offensively, he’s 8% above league average.  He’s a guy I hope the Cardinal will approach with a long term extension.  Paul DeJong has really struggled at the plate in recent years.  His defense remains strong but that may not be enough to retain a roster spot.  There are some strong (yet expensive) free agent options at SS.  Tommy Edman or the free agent could move to 2B.  I consider this option to be more of a luxury than a necessity.  However, doing this would give the Cardinals the best infield in all of MLB.
Tyler O’Neill  OPS+ 101  DRS +1 (LF)  0 (CF)
Dylan Carlson  OPS+ 100  DRS  +6 (CF)  -5 (RF)
Lars Nootbaar  OPS+ 126  DRS +3 (RF)  +1 (LF)  0 (CF)
Alec Burleson  OPS+ 56  DRS 0
Jordan Walker  #6 MLB prospect
Lars Nootbaar has earned the right to start the season as the starting RF being a plus hitter and plus defender.  Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson both had league average seasons hitting.  O’Neill played a solid LF but did not play it as well as he did in his 2 gold glove seasons.  Carlson is a much better CF than he is a RF.  He is a plus defender out there and should get a shot at it in 2022.  Burleson only played in 16 MLB games but is regarded as a very good left handed hitting prospect.  Juan Yepez, Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan can play in the OF.  The Cardinals could take a flyer on an OF on a one year deal.  Cody Bellinger has been linked to the Cardinals with that in mind.  In light of all this, I think Jordan Walker starts the season in AAA Memphis.  If Walker rakes there and there aren’t at least 3 OF on the big squad playing well, JW will be up by Memorial Day.
Conclusion:  The Cardinals absolutely must upgrade at Catcher.  They have a golden opportunity to create the best infield in baseball if they sign a SS.  Signing a LH bat to compete for an OF spot would be nice too.  I think they will acquire a catcher.  I don’t think they’ll sign a SS.  I’d say it’s 50/50 on whether they bring in Bellinger.
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