The MLB non-tender deadline has been moved up in anticipation of the likely work stoppage starting early December. Who are some players the St. Louis Cardinals could let go?
Usually, the Major League Baseball deadline to tender contracts to players is in December. This year, however, the MLB and MLBPA have decided to move that date up to Nov. 30. This will give a new wave of free agents a chance to latch on with a new organization before a possible lockout.
The St. Louis Cardinals have already trimmed some depth off their 40-man roster, and have made their first significant acquisition of the offseason by signing Steven Matz. They could continue their roster shuffle by casting aside some talent by Nov. 30 to clear up some roster clutter and also create more space on the roster for potential future adds.
Who are some players the Cardinals could shed in the days ahead? Let’s take a look.
A Handful of Minor League pitchers:
Here is where the Cardinals could really clear some room if so inclined. There are some names on the depth chart here the team could find expendable.
Johan Quezada, Brandon Waddell, and possibly even Angel Rondon are three names that most casual Cardinals fans might not know. Each of these players have upside, but do not figure to be much more than organization depth. Waddell in particular seems like a probable non-tender candidate. As a lefty reliever, the Cardinals have several players above him on the depth chart. They re-signed T.J. McFarland and have signed former Chicago Cubs lefty Kyle Ryan to a minor league deal. I could see Ryan taking Waddell’s place on the 40-man, possibly. As for the others, I like Quezada and thought he might have factored into the bullpen mix last season. While that wasn’t the case, he and Rondon both have the potential to succeed in a major league bullpen. Maybe just not in St. Louis.
Ali Sanchez had some playing time at the major league level in 2021 and serves as solid catching depth. It’s unlikely to me that he gets non-tendered, but it is a possibility. With Andrew Knizner set to be the backup to Yadier Molina, and prospect Ivan Herrera blazing a path to the major league level, Sanchez is simply a valuable organizational depth piece. He seems to be a good fit for the organization, but if the Cardinals want the roster spot, they could turn to someone else for that role that might not require a spot on the 40-man roster.
Rondon was a utility man for the 2021 Cardinals. He provided a spark off the bench and has the ability to play multiple positions. With Matt Carpenter now a free agent, another bench spot has opened up. There is room for Rondon to stick on the bench, but the Cardinals have other options. Juan Yepez has earned a likely bench role, and top prospect Nolan Gorman is soon to be knocking on the door, also. The possible (likely?) addition of the designated hitter to the National League means there should be playing time to go around for some of the bench players. Rondon was a solid utility player for the Cardinals, but they might be inclined to turn to someone with more upside in that role. That is not a criticism of Rondon, but more of a speculation that the Cardinals will want to see what their up and coming players like Gorman, Yepez, Lars Nootbaar, and Brendan Donovan can do. Donovan in particular seems to fit the profile of a utility player who can hit while playing several positions. If I were to guess, Rondon is the most likely non-tender candidate on the roster.
These are some players to keep an eye on in the days ahead. I expect the Cardinals to trim a few more players from the roster before the deadline. Another possibility is to trade a few players who might have more value but that do not figure into the team’s plans for next season. Either way, I would be on the lookout for some roster activity in the days ahead before the sport settles down for a long winter’s nap.