St. Louis Cardinals: Does Tommy Edman reset the future at third base?

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Tommy Edman #19 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base against the Washington Nationals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on September 16, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Tommy Edman #19 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base against the Washington Nationals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on September 16, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Tommy Edman has unexpectedly reset the future at third base for the St. Louis Cardinals. What does this mean for Matt Carpenter and the young rising prospects in the Cardinals minor league system?

The St. Louis Cardinals had a plan for third base. The plan was Matt Carpenter would be extended through the 2021 season, thus giving the franchise time to develop some of their young promising third base prospects. Those prospects include the franchise’s top prospect Nolan Gorman, along with Elehuris Montero, and Malcom Nunez.

In addition, the Cardinals had the versatile Yairo Munoz and IF/OF Drew Robinson coming out of Spring Training to add depth at third base. All the chips were in place for the 2019 season. Nothing else would be needed until after 2021 when Carpenter’s contract ran out. It seemed to be a good plan.

Oh, and if there was an injury or something, there was former sixth-round draft pick Tommy Edman sitting in Memphis, if needed. After all, he had a strong Spring Training and could fill in…probably temporarily.

But plans sometimes don’t work out as you think.

Yes, something happened on the way to the 2019 postseason. Matt Carpenter struggled at plate most of the season and Drew Robinson was no help. Meanwhile, back in Memphis, Tommy Edman was hitting a slash line of .305/.356/.513 with 7 HR and 29 RBI in 49 games.

Consequently, the Cardinals called up Edman on June 8th and was used a pinch hitter that night in a game vs the Chicago Cubs. Since his promotion to the major leagues, the 24-year-old switch hitter has a slash line of .299/.341/.494 with 11 HR and 33 RBI in 89 games. Additionally, he has 14 stolen bases and defensively plays a solid third base along with second base and right field.

With the struggles of Matt Carpenter and his extended stay on the IL in July, Edman has since assumed the primary role at third base, only changing when Kolten Wong was injured last week.

Where are those Prospects?

Meanwhile, prospects Nolan Gorman, Elehuris Montero, and Malcom Nunez seemed to be at least temporally stalled in the minor leagues.

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Gorman spent the year between Peoria in the Midwest A-League and Palm Beach in the Florida A+ League. In 125 games between both teams, the 19-year-old left-handed batter hit a slash line of .248/.326/.439 with 15 HR and 62 RBI.

The 18-year-old Nunez played between Johnson City in the Rookie League and Peoria in 2019. In 58 games between the two teams, the right-handed bat hit a slash line of .229/.305/.318 with two HR and 18 RBI.

The 20-year-old Elehuris Montero reached the farthest of the three by spending most of the year at AA Springfield in the Texas League. The right-handed bat hit a slash line of .188/.235/.317 with seven HR and 18 RBI’s in 59 games dealing with injury all year. Montero is working to improve his game at the Arizona Fall League with the Glendale Desert Dogs.

No reason to panic about any of these prospects, for they are still young and developing their game. However, their anticipated arrival in St. Louis may not come as quickly as some predicted.

So should Tommy Edman be the long term solution at third?

Defensively, it appears he could. Although a small sample, Edman currently has an Rtot/yr of 6 and an Rdrs/yr of 12 at third base in 55 games in 2019. This betters Carpenter’s nine-seasons of 1 and -2, and Yairo Munoz’s two-year 45 games of 2 and 2.

Comparatively, Scott Rolen has a career Rtot/yr of 10 and a Rdrs/year of 14. Rtot/yr and Rdrs/yr are defensive metrics used to measure defensive skills at a particular position, with 0 being considered average.

However offensively, Edman isn’t likely ever to be the 30 HR and 80-90 RBI guy the Cardinals would like at third base. Even a bat with the capability to hit 25 homers a year, like Matt Carpenter, would be a stretch for the 5-10 180lb Edman. Though he has hit 11 homers in 89 games this year, he was never a power bat in the minors.

Then is Tommy Edman a long term solution for the St. Louis Cardinals at third base? No.

What is Tommy Edman to the Cardinals?

What Tommy Edman does is buy time for the Cardinals to continue to develop prospects in the minor league, especially if Matt Carpenter is no longer going to be a consistent productive offensive player.

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Edman fits nicely into Mike Shildt’s scheme of solid defensive play with speed on the bases. However, until the player arrives that can give the Cardinals the power bat they desire at third, Tommy Edman’s versatility is only a good short-term solution.