The Cardinals have had a quiet offseason, with minor league infielder Jose Fermín being their only outside acquisition to date. That’s certain to change in the coming days and weeks, as St. Louis will undoubtedly bring in a catcher. They could look to the rotation and perhaps to the middle infield or corner outfield markets as well, although they have a number of position players on a typically deep St. Louis roster.
Entering the offseason, there was a fair bit of speculation the Cards could partake in the loaded free agent shortstop class. There’s not much indication they’ve dived deeply into that market, although Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweeted this afternoon they’ve at least checked in with free agent options at the position. Still, it doesn’t seem that’s a huge priority, as president of baseball operations John Mozeliak reiterated this evening the team is comfortable with Tommy Edman as their primary shortstop (via Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat). The top St. Louis executive went on to note the team likes Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman as second base possibilities.
That’s a sentiment Mozeliak has expressed a few times in the offseason’s early going. Asked about the possibility of adding a shortstop last week, Mozeliak replied that Edman is “is a very, very good shortstop” (link via Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic). While he’s never expressly ruled out an acquisition at the position, Mozeliak has extolled Edman when given the chance. The switch-hitting infielder is a Gold Glove caliber defender at both middle infield positions, and he’s coming off a quality .265/.324/.400 line through 630 plate appearances.
Edman could certainly move back to second base, but the presence of Donovan and Gorman gives St. Louis plenty of options. The former finished third in NL Rookie of the Year balloting this year after posting an excellent .394 on-base percentage through his first 126 MLB games. The latter had strikeout concerns but connected on 14 home runs in 89 games as a rookie after mashing in Triple-A. Neither Donovan nor Gorman is a strong defensive fit for up-the-middle work, but that’s perhaps not as significant a concern for a St. Louis team that otherwise has plus defenders (Paul Goldschmidt, Edman and Nolan Arenado) manning the dirt.
Paul DeJong also remains under contract, due $11MM and headed into the last guaranteed season of his deal. The former All-Star is coming off a third straight well below-average offensive season that kicked him down the depth chart, but the front office has consistently maintained they expected he’d bounce back. After a .157/.245/.286 showing in 77 MLB games in 2022, DeJong can’t be counted on for everyday reps on a win-now team. Yet it’s possible he sticks on the roster as a glove-first complement to Gorman and Donovan in the middle infield.
Mozeliak suggested DeJong is likely to be with St. Louis heading into 2023, telling reporters tonight (via Jones) they’re “not ready to cut bait” on the 29-year-old. He indicated the Cards have received some trade interest in DeJong — presumably from teams asking they’d pay down most of the contract while accepting a meager return — but suggested that’s not a course of action the Cards plan to take.
It seems a long shot the Cardinals end up landing one of the three remaining top shortstops, with more motivated teams in the bidding. However, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets the team could circle back to that market if they find their desired catching upgrade on the trade market. Dansby Swanson, who’s expected to command a lighter contract than either of Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts, would be the likely target in that event, Goold suggests. It seems any full-fledged pursuit of a shortstop for St. Louis would first be conditional on affordably solidifying the situation behind the plate, and it’s still not clear the team would consider a marquee investment at the position to be especially appealing.