The Cardinals stand pat
This is the scenario that would frustrate most fans, but is more realistic than the splashy moves and fits within their short- and long-term visions Over the last few years, fans have grown frustrated with the team for letting the likes of Luke Voit, Adolis Garcia, Randy Arozarena, Carson Kelly, Zac Gallen, Sandy Alcantara, and others find success on other clubs before really getting a shot in St. Louis.
In order for Mozeliak to make up for past sins and not let another one get away, the team must have at-bats and innings available to guys like Sosa, Nootbaar, Gorman, Yepez, Donavon, Jordan Walker, Alec Burelson Liberatore, Zack Thompson, and others.
While this is the least exciting scenario, there seems to be a medium risk-high reward potential laid out here. For starters, the team has very few holes left to plug, while high production players both on in the lineup and on the pitching staff already.
Banking on contributions from the major league ready farm guys, and the continued development of young stars already on the club, is not pie in the sky optimism. Could the team be in a similar spot as they were at the end of 2021? For sure. But it also leaves them room to see what they have in all of this young talent and attack the needs this club will have in future off-seasons with the money they chose not to spend this off-season.
This scenario would also allow the club to extend some of those high-profile players that have emerged to deals that will allow them to hold onto more of their core down the line. The likes of Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, Dakota Hudson, and Jack Flaherty could see paydays with the money left over, and fans in 2024 and 2025 would be happy not to see some of those guys test free agency.
In this scenario, let’s say the Cardinals bring in Ryan Tepera to round out their bullpen and extend Tyler O’Neill in the five-year, $75 million dollar range and Dakota Hudson to a five-year, $50 million dollar deal similar to that of the recent extension Sandy Alcantara received.
The 2022 team, while similar to the 2021 version, would be able to compete with the Milwaukee Brewers with the Matz and Tepera additions. It also leaves room for potential deals to fill out the club at the deadline if they have some needs heading into the postseason. Gorman, Yepez, and Donavon would all get the opportunity to prove their talent on the Major League Level, the likes of Liberatore and Thompson would be ready to impact the club whenever they are called upon.
O’Neill and Hudson would both get locked up as well, giving the team more stability within the future finances and team outlook that will get tricky in a few years with the impending free agencies of many of their young core. O’Neill finished top-10 in MVP voting his first full season of starting in left field, Dakota Hudson has shown promise to be a No. 2 starter in this league, and the continued development of a guy like Dylan Carlson could propel this team to a playoff run, despite not adding other major pieces outside of a bullpen arm.