4 difficult decisions for the St. Louis Cardinals before Spring Training ends

Spring Training is a time for decisions. These four decisions will be at the forefront of the St. Louis Cardinals' final offseason phase.

St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles
St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Decision #2: Filling out the bullpen

The Cardinals' 26-man roster is virtually complete. John Mozeliak's abundance of moves led to 13 new player acquisitions this offseason; these moves created more clarity for the roster in 2024. There are some areas, however, that will require a bit of competition to fill in.

One such position was the final bench spot. A role that was once Richie Palacios's transitioned to an open competition after he was traded. When Matt Carpenter was signed to a league-minimum contract, the competition was closed. Carp, who is now 38, is the presumptive 26th man for the Cardinals next year. If an injury arises, or if the team truly doesn't see a spot for the veteran infielder, there may be an opening here.

The main competition resides in the bullpen. St. Louis has historically carried eight relievers and five starters on the roster. Recent news of a possible 6-man rotation may throw a wrench in those plans, but if the rotation stays steady at 5, there are plenty of spots in the bullpen that are available. Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, JoJo Romero, Andrew Kittredge, and Keynan Middleton are locks for five spots.

That leaves three open spots. Riley O'Brien, John King, Zack Thompson, Andre Pallante, Nick Robertson, Ryan Fernandez, and Matthew Liberatore are all getting runs for the final three spots. Several relievers have already made strong impressions just one week into camp, but there is still plenty of time to go. If a starting pitcher gets injured, things shift around. If one of the five aforementioned relievers goes down, the competition softens ever so slightly.

O'Brien's stuff is enticing; he features a cutter that can touch 98 and a sweeper with nearly three feet of horizontal movement. Pallante has been tweaking his repertoire this offseason. King, Thompson, and Liberatore could all provide plenty of innings from the left side out of the 'pen. Whichever route Oliver Marmol and his staff choose to take, be assured that there is plenty of capable bullpen depth in the system.