This could be the most important off-season the Cardinals have had in recent memory. With the top priority centering around the need for starting pitching, there are several ways they can fill that need, and one way is moving certain minor-league prospects that can bring back some value.
Depending on how aggressive the Cardinals plan to be, there should be some names that'll be considered "untouchable" in a trade for pitching. Names like Masyn Winn, Tink Hence, Victor Scott II, and reigning Texas League MVP Thomas Saggese will likely not be available for trade this off-season. Despite the Cardinals' farm system being seen by most as not one of the better ones in the league ( 22nd in the MLB Pipeline mid-season ranking), there are still some prospects that saw a rise in their development in 2023 that could be blocked from getting to the big leagues sooner.
There is a current logjam in the outfield that is preventing players like Juan Yepez from getting more at bats, or someone like Moises Gomez from getting to the big leagues altogether. But there are a few players in the Cardinals farm system that even if their play continues to improve in the minors, there is not currently a spot for them on the Major League roster. Along with the outfield logjam, there is also one at catcher with the prospects the Cardinals currently have, and they have a lot of options on who they could move, out of those options, I believe that Pedro Pages is the one the Cardinals should try to move.
Catcher Pedro Pages
Pages was drafted by the Cardinals in the 6th round back in the 2019 draft out of the University of Florida Atlantic. He has always been a solid defensive catcher with great skills at blocking and receiving. The offense has not been there for most of his career but it has made some strides in the last year or so, starting last season in the Arizona Fall League.
In 13 games last year, Arizona Fall League Pages hit .279 with one home run and 7 RBI in 43 ABs, that success carried over to the 2023 season with Springfield in Double-A. This season Pages hit .267 with a .362 on base which were both his highest since 2019, and he surpassed career highs in hits (113), doubles (23), home runs (16), and RBI (72), all in a career-high 117 games played. He also cut down on his strikeouts substantially as he had a 19.3% K rate this season, after having a 30.3% K rate last year.
So why would now be the right time to try to trade Pages? Looking at the catcher position Willson Contreras has 4 years left on his deal, Andrew Knizner is coming off the best offensive season of his career, and the top-catching prospect Ivan Herrera impressed in a brief time with the big club this year. There are also other catching prospects who are actually higher on the MLB.com top 30 prospect list for the Cardinals than Pages, Jimmy Crooks, and Leonardo Bernal, there may not be a route for Pages to get consistent time in the big leagues. And with Pages coming off a career year offensively, he may draw interest from other teams that could give him a better opportunity to get to the big leagues, because it doesn't seem likely with the Cardinals' current catching situation for Pages.