Five takeaways following the St. Louis Cardinals’ early postseason exit

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October 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher John Lackey (41) looks down as he is requested to exchange baseballs during his pitch in the third inning against Chicago Cubs in game four of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

2. Contract Decisions Could Leave Big Holes

John Lackey, Jason Heyward and Jaime Garcia made a combined total of just over $17.5 million in 2015, proving as bargains throughout a season in which they combined for a 12.6 aggregate WAR. It’s difficult to say that the Cardinals would be in the postseason without the contributions of all three, something that could possibly affect the Cardinals next year.

Shortly following the loss, impending free agent Jason Heyward described the possibility of staying with the Cardinals as the “ideal situation”, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Going into the offseason as one of the most productive outfielders and youngest free agents, Heyward projects for a large pay day that may have St. Louis second-guessing their current outfield situation.

As for the pitchers, it’s difficult to imagine that the Cardinals bring back Lackey with a slew of young pitchers around a healthy Adam Wainwright. The same motive could cause St. Louis to decline Garcia’s services the upcoming season with the possibility of a $500,000 buyout, which would leave the rotation without a bonafide southpaw.