The St. Louis Cardinals are in a position they rarely find themselves during the month of August, already having their eyes on next year.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that means the rest of the season is meaningless. We recently dove into some of the many reasons the rest of these games matter for the Cardinals' current roster and their future club. In fact, we are already learning some things about the future of this roster.
This team is going to be trying to play competitive baseball down the stretch for a number of reasons. They are not technically out of the playoff race yet, so guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are not going to take these games lightly. Almost every player on this roster will still want to be putting up numbers regardless, as these games will ultimately matter for their arbitration cases, future free-agent contracts, and even opportunities within the game, whether that's in St. Louis or somewhere else.
The trade deadline and recent roster moves have created opportunities for different players to prove their worth for this Cardinals organization. Trading away Jack Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Hicks, and Paul DeJong opened up playing time in a big way. Injuries to players like Brendan Donovan and Ryan Helsley have opened up high-leverage at-bats and innings as well.
There are four players in particular that I think have taken these opportunities by the horn and are playing themselves into real opportunities with this club beyond this season. Some of these players were honestly fighting to even be with the organization next year, and now may be real contributors. Others were no doubt a part of the Cardinals plans, but have played themselves into even bigger roles with the club recently.