Even after outfielder Dylan Carlson was activated from the injured list yesterday, the Cardinals have opted to leave Tommy Edman in center field, where he seems poised to stick for the foreseeable future, as noted by Katie Woo of The Athletic. Manager Oliver Marmol expressed support of Edman’s glovework in center field, telling reporters (including Woo) that the switch-hitter “has done a really nice job in center”, calling his work in the outfield “darn impressive.”
Edman has paired his quality glove with roughly league average offense so far in 2023, as the 28-year-old utility man has slashed .246/.306/.417 in 221 plate appearances this season, good for a wRC+ of 98. While that figure represents a definitive step back from Edman’s .265/.324/.400 slash line in 2022 (108 wRC+), it’s worth noting that Edman’s .265 BABIP so far this season would be the lowest of his career over a full season, far below his career .303 figure.
While shifting a Gold Glove middle infielder to the outfield is a risky move when it comes to preserving infield defense, the Cardinals are fortunate to have quality options in Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, and Paul DeJong up the middle, with veteran superstars Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt flanking them at the infield corners. With Edman sticking in center, Carlson has been used in Right Field since his return, with youngsters Jordan Walker and Alec Burleson patrolling left.
Of course, the club will have to revisit Edman’s hold on center field as more injured outfielders, such as Tyler O’Neill and Lars Nootbaar, return from the IL. That being said, it seems that any such decision won’t be coming any time soon, as O’Neill saw his rehab paused due to continued back discomfort at the end of May. Meanwhile, Nootbaar has only just begun to hit off a tee after going on the IL with back spasms last week per MLB.com’s John Denton.
In more positive injury news, Denton notes that left-hander Packy Naughton, who has been on the IL with a forearm strain since early April, is poised to make a Triple-A rehab appearance tomorrow. Prior to his injury, Naughton impressed with five scoreless innings where he allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out five, good for a 1.88 FIP. Upon his return, Naughton could factor into the St. Louis bullpen alongside the likes of Andre Pallante and Genesis Cabrera as the club relies on Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks, and Giovanny Gallegos in the late innings.