St. Louis Cardinals: Ranking the players with the most value beyond 2021
These next five are what I call “the supporting cast.” They aren’t expected to win the MVP, but you need this group to perform consistently to support your stars. The best-case scenario is that one or two make the jump into the top group, but we’ll get into that in a minute. Also, I’d like to note how all of them are under contract for at least three more years, and, with one exception, the oldest is only 27 years old.
I didn’t realize that Miles Mikolas is signed through the 2023 season. Since that practically guarantees he will be a member of the rotation for two seasons beyond 2021, I had no choice but to put him in this special group of the top eight. In an ideal world, Mikolas will provide stability and a veteran presence as the young guys sort themselves out the next two years. It’s unlikely that Mikolas moves any higher on this list, but if the Cardinals are successful, the young guys behind him will have jumped ahead.
7- Dakota Hudson
It’s a shame Dakota Hudson will be out for the entirety of the 2021 season. The only good news is that it gives the Cardinals a look at some of the other young pitchers. I wish Hudson a speedy recovery, and hopefully in 2022 he can resume his promising young career.
6- Tommy Edman
There is only one position not represented on the Cardinals’ top 30 prospect list, and that’s second base. Tommy Edman has gone from an unheralded sixth-round draft pick to the starter in a position without much backup. Still only 25 years old, Edman enters year three with a fantastic opportunity to prove his rookie season wasn’t a fluke. This spot could be his for the foreseeable future.
5- Paul DeJong
I have to remind myself that Paul DeJong is only 27 years old. The versatile shortstop is entering his fifth season in the big leagues. He struggled last year at the plate and in the field, but there has to be some confidence in the organization that the former All-Star can return to form. Between this season and next, a lot of veterans will be leaving St. Louis. Paul DeJong is going to be a very important leader.
4- Dylan Carlson
Dylan Carlson showed why he was such a highly-touted minor leaguer at the end of last season, and expectations are sky-high for the young switch-hitter going into 2021. Carlson has all the tools to become the anchor of the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup. I hope he continues his development this next season so that by the time the Gormans and Liberatores of the system start arriving, Carlson will already have established himself as a building block. I said that we shouldn’t expect MVP seasons from this section of the roster, but Carlson might be an exception.