3 extensions the Cardinals should have made instead of Tommy Edman's

The Tommy Edman contract extension has been marred slightly by his uncertain future in 2024. Should the Cardinals have inked someone else long-term?
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Jeff Dean/GettyImages
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Jordan Walker

It's not typical of the Cardinals to hand out extensions for greater than 5 years to an arbitration-eligible player. Jordan Walker would command one well in excess of that term. His age (21), prospect pedigree (former #3 in all of baseball), and team control remaining (5 years) would all lend him to receiving an extension around 8 years in length.

While Walker is off to a rough start in his sophomore season, his offensive statistics last year were strong, particularly for a rookie. He finished the season with a .276/.342/.445 slash line, good for a 114 OPS+. Walker's 37 extra-base hits in 117 games are reasonable. The hope was that Walker would be able to increase his 8% walk rate and decrease his 22.4% K rate, though both rates were near the 50th percentile last season.

Walker's primary downfall is on the defensive side of the ball. A former third baseman, Walker's routes and range were abysmal last year. He finished the year with -14 Outs Above Average (OAA) and -16 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Walker focused heavily on his defensive abilities this past offseason while working with Willie McGee. He stayed in Florida all winter to get some reps in right field under his belt.

Plenty of other young and talented prospects have received extensions in recent history. The Atlanta Braves gave Michael Harris II one in 2022, the Arizona Diamondbacks extended Corbin Carroll in 2023, and Bobby Witt Jr. was given a megadeal by the Kansas City Royals. While Walker won't reach the heights of Witt or Carroll, he's still worthy of a multi-year agreement.

Jordan Walker is off to a rough start this year, but given defensive improvements and a return to barreling the ball like he did last year, we could be in store for a great season from the right fielder. Walker would likely command a 7 or 8-year contract worth about $80 million. This is a fair deal given his projected ceiling and abilities.