Evaluating the St. Louis Cardinals’ extraordinary outfield depth
By Ben Remis
There are currently eight members of the St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster who play the outfield. All but one remain under team control for next season, and all but two are under contract for the next two seasons. These eight are listed in no particular order.
Tyler O’Neill is a gold glove winner, plus he ranks at the top of the league in both exit velocity and sprint speed. The 27 year-old even received MVP votes last season. However, he has struggled to stay on the field this season, and we’ve yet to see him at his best for a long period of time. The sky is the limit with O’Neill’s incredible toolset– plus, he’s not eligible for free agency until 2025.
The best hair in baseball belongs to the best defensive player in baseball. Harrison Bader has struggled to stay healthy as well, but when he’s in the lineup, the Cardinals win. And what Bader lacks in consistency at the plate he makes up for with his incredible speed on the basepaths. Bader is 28 years old and just signed a new contract through the end of 2023.
Former top prospect Dylan Carlson was my breakout pick for 2022. Because of his steady nature and incremental improvements, people forget about how good Carlson can become. He didn’t have the splashy debut or meteoric rise of other top prospects. But the switch-hitting 23 year-old is a legit five-tool player with an incredibly bright future. Only in his second full season, Carlson won’t be a free agent until 2027.
Corey Dickerson is still on the team. Unlikely to be brought back next season, he’s not really a factor going forward. Nothing against him personally, he just happens to be in a tough spot.
How great is Brendan Donovan? He plays every position, grinds out at-bats, and is a classic late-round Cardinal draft pick. While he is technically listed as an infielder, 30 of the 72 games he’s played this season have come in either left or right field. The potential rookie of the year has shown that he belongs in the big leagues.
Although he’s currently injured, Yepez has been a crucial contributor for the Cardinals this season. While the DH might be the best position for Yepez’s below-average defense, he counts in this section because he’s played over thirty games in right or left field this season– and as the saying goes, if you can hit, we’ll find a spot for you.
Lars Nootbaar struggled to begin this season. However, Noot is only 24 years old. He can play all three outfield spots, he runs the bases well, and is generally a joy to watch. While Noot doesn’t have the highest ceiling of the guys on this list, the lefty is a solid addition to any major league team.
Brought over from Cleveland in 2018, Conner Capel has played sparingly for St. Louis in 2022. The lefty can play all three outfield positions, and provides good outfield depth. A less exciting version of Lars, there’s a reason I listed him as one of the players most likely to be traded at the deadline.