A hypothetical St. Louis Cardinals offseason blueprint

John Mozeliak looks on from the stands during a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on July 28, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
John Mozeliak looks on from the stands during a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on July 28, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
JUPITER, FL – MARCH 14: Luken Baker #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action against the New York Mets during a spring training baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 14, 2019 in Jupiter, Florida. The game ended in 1-1 tie after nine innings of play. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Before we can start making splashes through trades and free agency, there is one important step I am taking as general manager. The Rule 5 draft takes place in just a few short weeks, and the Cardinal’s have many intriguing players to protect for the December 1st deadline.

With the addition of Garcia, the St. Louis Cardinals would have five spots on the 40-man roster. There are at least five prospects that I believe the Cardinals should protect. Remember, for another team to keep a player after selecting them in the rule five draft, they must remain with the big league club for the entirety of the season.

Delvin Perez, Luken Baker, Kramer Robertson, and Brendan Donovan are all at risk to be taken from the Cardinals. Perez rejuvenated his career last year at AAA-Memphis. Baker and Donovan shined at the plate this season at Memphis, and Robertson is a personal favorite of mine who has shown the ability to play all over the diamond while hitting for average.

Although all four of these prospects are blocked in some way at the big league level, I believe they are still very valuable. After all, the organization prides itself on depth. You might have noticed that if you add each of them to the 40-man roster, however, there’s barely room for anyone else. What about Nolan Gorman, Matthew Liberatore, and Zack Thompson? What about free agency?

Here’s where the cuts begin. The Cardinals already began this process over the weekend by designating Austin Dean, Max Moroff, and Justin Williams for assignment. Dean was claimed by the Giants, and Williams has elected free agency, but Moroff passed waivers and will remain in Memphis. The question for the Cardinals here is about ceiling. We know that they can develop talent, and each of Dean, Moroff, and Williams have shown that they have the ability to help out the big league club. The difficult decision is rostering the player who can do more.

The Cardinals might be forced to let go of some other players in similar situations. T.J. Zeuch, Johan Quezada, and LJ Newsome were exciting projects, but I am going to risk losing them as I remove them from the 40-man roster. Brandon Wadell and Junior Fernandez were the other options considered here. We’re back to 37 on the 40-man roster– can we make any other adjustments?

Well, I would heavily consider Ali Sanchez and Jose Rondon as candidates to be let go. Sanchez provides good depth at catcher, but you have to give Ivan Herrera the third catcher spot at this point, and defensive-minded catchers can be found throughout the St. Louis organization. Rondon was the ultimate spark plug off the bench this season, so I think I’ll hold on to him. But making the active roster will be mighty tough for Rondon as we improve the team in the next few steps.

We’ve seen what Lars Nootbaar can do. Juan Yepez is tearing the cover off the ball in the Arizona Fall League. Now think of the potential of Perez, Donovan, Baker, and Robertson. Can you say Devil Magic? It’ll be worth protecting each of them– trust me.

OK, the 40-man roster is at 36 players, and we’re officially ready to go for some upgrades. Let’s get to the fun part.