The St. Louis Cardinals should promote Jordan Walker immediately to take advantage of a new rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Outfield prospect Jordan Walker looks like a stud in the making, and if the St. Louis Cardinals open the season with him on their roster, they could receive an extra draft pick if he puts up big numbers.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement says that if a rookie in two of three of the top-100 prospect lists of MLB, ESPN and Baseball America is promoted and receives a full year of service, his team will receive another pick in the amateur draft if the player wins Rookie of the Year or finishes in the top three of MVP voting before he reaches salary arbitration. The team could also receive picks in an international draft if one is agreed upon for that year.
As fans know, Walker has been slaughtering the minor leagues and doesn’t have anything left to prove there. With the Cardinals’ outfield in a less-than-impressive state, the team should give Walker a chance to run with an outfield job if his Spring Training performance is even adequate.
If the Cardinals decide to let Walker loose on major league pitching, there is a question of what to do with the current outfield crop. Tyler O’Neill has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the young offseason, and he likely has the most value of the three incumbent outfielders given his exceptional 2021 season. The Cardinals could theoretically try to flip O’Neill for some catching talent, thus filling the void behind the plate and letting Walker seamlessly slip into left field.
If the Cardinals opt to keep O’Neill, Dylan Carlson and Lars Nootbaar as their three starting outfielders, they could turn to Walker in a designated hitter role. However, that probably isn’t the best option given that Walker is only 20-years old and has the athleticism and strong arm to play the outfield competently. While hitting is judged more than fielding when it comes to award voting, his being a designated hitter could knock some points off his Rookie of the Year case.
The thought of another draft pick, especially if it’s an early one, is alluring, and Walker appears to have the superstar potential to win Rookie of the Year and earn that pick. If the Cardinals need to clear a spot in the outfield to let him cook, they should go for it; this type of talent and opportunity isn’t around very often.