Post Content Cardinals News 

February 9th, 2023

On one hand, it might have been wise of the Cardinals to bring back most of a roster that won 93 games and a National League Central division crown in 2022 and featured elite performers all over the diamond. On the other hand, St. Louis hasn’t quite had enough firepower over the past few Octobers, losing nine of its last 10 playoff games and failing to win a postseason series since 2019.

The Cardinals did accomplish their top offseason goal — replacing the retired Yadier Molina with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras — but they did not meet the soaring costs that came with the star-studded shortstop class or the top-tier starting pitching market. More thump to replace the departed Albert Pujols also could have been helpful, but none was acquired.

As such, the Cards head into the 2023 season largely dependent on the offensive upgrade Contreras should bring, good health for starter Jack Flaherty and some bounceback seasons from outfielders who slumped in 2022.

One wild card that could dramatically swing the Cardinals’ fate is the potential Opening Day arrival of hulking outfielder Jordan Walker, the 20-year-old, five-tool star ranked as the No. 4 prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Walker has the physical and mental maturity to handle the pressures of being an MLB regular and he’ll be given every opportunity in Spring Training to win a starting job. If he can handle right field, the job could be his.

Here is a first look at our Cardinals 2023 roster projection. This outlook will be fluid throughout the spring, and we’ll update it twice more prior to Opening Day at Busch Stadium against the Blue Jays on March 30.

Catcher: Willson ContrerasContreras is coming off back-to-back 20-plus home run seasons, so he should be a massive offensive upgrade. Defensively, the Cards just need him to be adequate.

First base: Paul GoldschmidtGoldschmidt was the best player on the planet much of last season, but he did experience a September/October swoon. That gave the NL MVP plenty of motivation for this season.

Second base: Brendan DonovanDonovan became the first rookie in the Cards’ rich history to win a Gold Glove when he took home the first-ever NL utility Gold Glove Award. His value can’t be overstated.

Shortstop: Tommy EdmanEdman showed his tremendous worth by switching from second base to shortstop and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense again. Keeping Edman healthy and fresh are keys because his offensive production tends to tail off when he wears down.

Third base: Nolan ArenadoA year after finishing third in the MVP race and winning his 10th straight Gold Glove, Arenado was surprisingly ranked by MLB Network as the fifth-best third baseman. Undoubtedly, the fiery Arenado will use that ranking as fuel.

Outfielders: Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, Jordan WalkerO’Neill struggled last season while trying to repeat his career year from 2021. He stayed in St. Louis and revamped his workouts to try and prevent the injuries that marred his 2022. Carlson, who struggled with wrist and thumb injuries, is also poised for a bounceback if he hits righties again. If Walker makes the Opening Day roster — he might have a 50/50 shot — he could be the Cards’ right fielder for the next decade.

Designated hitter: Lars NootbaarNootbaar’s average exit velocity ranked in MLB’s 90th percentile, while his hard-hit rate was in the 80th percentile. The Cards are hopeful that his 2022 momentum carries to 2023.

Bench/utility: Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Andrew Knizner, Paul DeJongThe Cards want Gorman playing, so he’ll split time between second base and DH. Yepez’s pop is also needed, and he’ll be a top DH option. DeJong will be fighting for a place on the Major League roster.

Starting pitchers: RHP Adam Wainwright, RHP Miles Mikolas, LHP Jordan Montgomery, RHP Jack Flaherty, LHP Steven MatzMuch of the fanfare will be around Wainwright, who plans to retire after this season. However, it’s Flaherty who is the key to the staff. If he can rediscover his 2019 form, he could make $200 million next offseason. Don’t be surprised to see Mikolas land a well-deserved contract extension this spring. Drew VerHagen, Matthew Liberatore and Jake Woodford are depth rotation options.

Relief pitchers: RHP Ryan Helsley, RHP Giovanny Gallegos, RHP Jordan Hicks, RHP Dakota Hudson, RHP Andre Pallante, LHP Zack Thompson, LHP Connor Thomas, LHP Genesis CabreraHelsley had a career year, despite his playoff troubles. Gallegos and Hicks can close, as well. The Cards need a bounceback season from Cabrera. Wilking Rodriguez, a standout in the Mexican League, is a wild card.