The Cardinals have condensed an entire offseason’s worth of drama into the span of about two weeks, re-signing icons Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, trading Dexter Fowler and striking a blockbuster deal to acquire Nolan Arenado. It’s been a frenzied period for president of baseball ops John Mozeliak, GM Mike Girsch and the rest of the staff, but it seems the bulk of the team’s heavy lifting is complete. Mozeliak suggested at yesterday’s Molina press conference that the team is “pretty confident with the team we have going into camp” (links via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat).
While the Cardinals may yet seek out some depth up the middle and in the rotation, any remaining additions are likely to be of the non-roster variety, it seems. That suggests that the Cardinals will head into the season with a young and/or unproven outfield mix consisting of Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson, Lane Thomas, Justin Williams and Austin Dean. It also looks to rule out the possible addition of veteran starters Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton or Taijuan Walker — all three of whom (Odorizzi in particular) were rumored to be under consideration as of late last week.
There are still plenty of notable free-agent names that could settle for non-guaranteed deals with Spring Training just around the corner. Potential middle-infield targets for teams in need include Eric Sogard and Joe Panik, while veteran starters like Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Shoemaker and Anibal Sanchez are among the many free agents lingering on the open market. If the Cards do look to add some competition in the outfield, there are even more recognizable names available on that front. The Cardinals currently project to have a payroll in the $145MM range, per Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez, although that could still tick upward a bit depending on the outcome of ace Jack Flaherty’s arbitration hearing.
Barring a change of heart from Mozeliak and/or a sudden ownership green-lighting of one more big free-agent strike, the Cards seem likely to lean on Flaherty, Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Kwang Hyun Kim and Carlos Martinez as their primary starters. Depth options include Daniel Ponce de Leon, Genesis Cabrera, Jake Woodford and Johan Oviedo — plus whichever arms the front office can reel in on non-roster invitations in the coming days or weeks.