The St. Louis Cardinals missed the playoffs once again, and that means changes need to come this offseason.
All of those changes are going to lead back to the cluttered 40-man roster. Jenifer Langosch covered some FAQs for the St. Louis Cardinals offseason, and it makes things extremely clear. Some changes are certainly coming.
I know that the playoffs are going on, and nothing can even happen until five days after the final game of the World Series, but that does not cancel out the importance of planning. There are a lot of decisions to be made, and the front office needs to use this extra time to make the right ones in order to return to postseason baseball.
There is a lot that can happen in an offseason, so it gets pretty murky. So let’s start simple.
According to Langosch, the 40-man roster is currently full. The day after the playoffs end, Bud Norris, Adam Wainwright, Tyson Ross, Francisco Pena, and Matt Adams become free agents. Assuming none of them are brought back, that is five spots cleared.
But hold on. When Dexter Fowler, Michael Wacha, Luke Gregerson, and Alex Reyes come off of the 60 day DL, they will fill spots. So, assuming all free agents walk there is only a single spot opened up. If we are being honest, Gregerson will probably be removed. So, one for sure, and hopefully two.
In order to clear spots, the St. Louis Cardinals can make trades, or simply try to pass players through waivers. While trying to predict trades is a waste of time, there are some seemingly expendable players.
As far as removing players from the 40-man, they will need to pass through waivers, meaning other teams can claim them. The biggest expendable name to me is Tyler Webb. Other than that it will be interesting.
I highly doubt the take Patrick Wisdom off. However, I could see them dropping potentially Adolis Garcia from the 40-man, maybe even one of the young starters like John Gant. It’s really a toss up. But it will be vital to have some spots available.
Rule 5 Draft
One of the reasons to have spots available is to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. There are several top prospects who are eligible this year, and the only way to ensure they remain in the St. Louis Cardinals organization is to add them to the 40-man.
There are six prospects in the top 30 that are eligible to be taken. Of those six, there are three that I would deem vital to retain. Max Schrock, Ryan Helsley, and Genesis Cabrera all played in Triple A, and would likely be taken.
The other three are Junior Fernandez, Ramon Urias, and Wadye Ynfante. Fernandez did not pitch higher than Double A, and Ynfante Single A. Urias, however, did play as high as Triple A, which means he could be taken. It seems like he will become another utility infielder type, which the St. Louis Cardinals seem to have in spades.
To be fair, the Padres took Allen Cordoba in the Rule 5 draft a few years back, and he had not played higher than Rookie ball before his selection. So there are important decisions to be made regarding these six prospects.
Moves are coming. This is gearing up to be a busy time for the Cardinals. In order to improve, they will have to cut ties with some youth, or potentially some expensive contracts. It really might not be out of the question to dump Fowler this offseason to make room for higher performing players.
I’ve always been a believer in John Mozeliak, but this is a critical time for the St. Louis Cardinals. Mishandling this offseason can quickly change my belief in the front office. They need to do something to move the needle in the right direction.