The Cardinals were not going to re-sign Harrison Bader
Not only do the Cardinals have a wealth of options organizationally for the outfield, the club was always unlikely to be able to keep the core of O’Neill, Bader, and Carlson around long term.
With big contracts already given other players on the roster, it would have hurt the club’s chances to address club needs if they began to hand out big deals to each of their outfielders as well. The odd man out always looked to be Bader.
With Bader being a free agent after the 2023 season, moving him now to a team who is trying to win a World Series while giving them another year of team control allowed St. Louis to get a good player in return, someone that will fill a bigger need for them this and next year.
Although the club could have waited for such a move, it seemed like the perfect move for both 2022 and 2023, bringing in a good, controllable starter and dealing away from a position of abundance.