St. Louis Cardinals: Which outfielder is most likely to be traded?
The St. Louis Cardinals have a glut of outfielders vying for spots in 2020 but there simply isn’t enough room for all. Which one is most likely to be trade bait?
The biggest issue with the St. Louis Cardinals in this decade, in my opinion, has been the tendency to hoard a bunch of complementary players at certain positions. If you have multiple superstar players that happen to play the same position, that can be worked around, but when the players are all complementary pieces, it creates almost an overchoice where picking the guy to stick with is hard to do.
This glut happened in the early part of the decade with young pitchers, when guys like Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, Zac Gallen, and more were all in the system. The timeline with the first part of that list is a little off, but still, the team was overloaded with pitching prospects.
What eventually happens in these situations is the team finally gets smart to the abundance of depth they have and starts trading away players to help plug holes in other spots.
Right now, the Cardinals are facing that same glut with their outfield. The glut is helped some by the trade of Adolis Garcia to the Rangers, but the depth chart is still packed.
Now, without Garcia, the depth chart looks like this: Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, Jose Martinez, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, Dylan Carlson, Randy Arozarena, Justin Williams, Tommy Edman (?). There are (at least) a couple of problems with this list. One, all of these players are either unknown and unproven young guys or complimentary major leaguers. Two, all of them (except Carlson) are old enough where sitting in AAA all year would rot their potential.
At the same time, not all of them can play at the MLB.
Carlson is untouchable and a lock to start at AAA (regardless of how bad I want him in left field on Opening Day), O’Neill, Thomas, and Arozarena have all put up big numbers at AAA and have the chance to be above average-to-great outfielders if given regular playing time. Fowler, Bader, Martinez are all paid many times what all the young guys make and are MLB regulars with their own warts.
Tommy Edman should not play outfield regularly. I know he filled in fine in right field in 2019, but he should play where his defense is best, which is the infield.
The point I am trying to make is that something needs to give. Garcia being moved is a start, but there’s no way the Cardinals can go into 2020 with eight MLB-caliber outfielders on the depth chart. One or multiple will need to be traded. Who’s most likely?