7 St. Louis Cardinals players became free agents on Wednesday, with Carlos Martinez and Matt Carpenter soon to join that list.
The offseason is not even 48 hours old and there has already been action, with the Reds trading catcher Tucker Barnhart to the Tigers and the Brewers signing free-agent reliever Trevor Gott.
On Wednesday, 160 players were declared free agents by Major League Baseball, with seven of them being St. Louis Cardinals. The list includes Luis Amado García, J.A. Happ, Kwang Hyun Kim, Wade LeBlanc, Jon Lester, TJ McFarland and Andrew Miller.
That list will soon include Carlos Martinez and Matt Carpenter once the Cardinals decline their club options. It will give the Cardinals over $20 million of financial flexibility and, considering that this will be Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are entering their last seasons, they appear likely to use it.
They have been connected to Trevor Story and the top free-agent shortstops. They could use it on a starting pitcher or on another reliever. But they could use it to retain some of their own free agents, though none of the players listed above are likely to command large contracts or anything more than one year.
It’s possible the Cardinals try to bring back Lester or Happ. After all, both were strong players after being acquired at the trade deadline, but they largely benefitted from an elite defense. Adding players who are upgrades, and also younger and can play in St. Louis for multiple seasons, may be the smarter play by the front office unless the higher-end options become too expensive.
Kim is unlikely to return – there were rumblings he was unhappy last season in St. Louis – though perhaps the Cardinals are able to re-sign Miller or LeBlanc to keep some stability in the bullpen.
No matter what, the Cardinals’ roster will look significantly different in 2022. Wednesday was only the beginning of a pretty drastic overhaul.