St. Louis Cardinals: Looking ahead, Carson Kelly edition


Continuing my “Looking Ahead” series, the St. Louis Cardinals have a blockade at catcher currently. But what does that mean for Carson Kelly?

When the St. Louis Cardinals season ended, John Mozeliak stated the only person guaranteed a spot was Yadier Molina. A bit of an exaggeration, sure, but it does show he may have the strongest hold on his position. This bears the question, what to do with Carson Kelly?

One of the top rated catching prospects in the game, Kelly has hype surrounding him for the last year or so, as the supposed heir apparent to Molina. The problem is, Molina just signed a contract extension and doesn’t seem to be anywhere near relinquishing the job to Kelly or anyone else. The 35-year-old Molina just finished his 14th season as the St. Louis Cardinals’ catcher and had his eighth All-Star appearance.

Molina is a star, and has been for quite some time. The problem becomes, how long can he keep this up? What do you do with a young player who really doesn’t have anything to prove in AAA? The experiment with Kelly as the team’s backup really didn’t work out last year. He floundered on the bench most of the time, and when he did play he could never get in a rhythm. That is understandable considering the gaps between appearances he would have.

Whether or not the team intends on Kelly having a larger role with the team next year remains to be seen.

Molina seems to be made of the same stuff as Wolverine because the guy just keeps coming back no matter what happens to him. It would make sense to let him take a day or two a week off to make sure he is good to go down the stretch. That plan is unlikely to appease Molina, though, because he is a gamer and wants to be out there every single day. He is a leader on this team and a key contributor.

One potential plan for Kelly could be to trade him. Some fans may not like this plan. With an aging catcher it is hard to support trading one with as much upside as Kelly. Wasting his value though should be viewed the exact same way. Kelly would be an attractive piece to a lot of teams. It is no question the Cardinals could include him in a potential deal that would net a very solid return.

Next: Lance Lynn holds key to off-season

Whether or not the front office is seriously considering trading Kelly remains to be seen. Regardless, there needs to be a plan. Another year like 2017 could do far more damage than good to Kelly’s future. Being on the bench does not help the young player improve. Learning under Molina is extremely valuable, no question. Never playing though, that will do more damage than the benefit of learning from Molina could ever do.