4 untouchable Cardinals' players during the Winter Meetings

With the Winter Meetings having kicked off, St. Louis figures to be active in the relief and trade markets. Which players are "untouchable" in trades?

St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals / Greg Fiume/GettyImages
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Lars Nootbaar

I wrote during the Trade Deadline saga that Lars Nootbaar was untouchable even then, and the same remains true today. Nootbaar is a more than capable outfielder with above-average offense who is an international superstar. Nootbaar has been paramount in the team's possible courting of Yoshinobu Yamamoto as well.

"Rival teams have approached the Cardinals about Lars Nootbaar, though St. Louis has no inclination to move him. Brendan Donovan is also a popular name, and though the Cardinals surely would not want to part with Donovan’s high ceiling, having Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman and Masyn Winn might make that move easier to stomach, should they have to."

Katie Woo

Offensively, Lars finished 2023 with a .261/.367/.418 slash line to go along with fourteen home runs, forty-six runs batted in, and eleven stolen bases in 503 plate appearances; he had a 115 OPS+ last year. Nootbaar improved his on-base skills and sacrificed his power last year, but the results appeared promising as his batting average jumped nearly fifty-five points. He had a walk rate of 14.3% (top 5% of the league) and a strikeout rate of 19.7%.

On the defensive side of the game, Nootbaar logged a positive Outs Above Average total in both center field (+1 OOA) and left field (+2 OAA). He ranks in the 80th percentile in range and the 78th percentile in arm strength. He also accumulated three Defensive Runs Saved. While Nootbaar could find time in center field, he is most comfortable in the corner outfield, particularly left field.

Given a full season, Lars Nootbaar has the potential to be a 4.5-5.5 bWAR player. He has great bat-to-ball and on-base skills, and his left-handed bat profiles well in any lineup. Lars Nootbaar is not going to be traded this offseason, and John Mozeliak is wise to keep him on the roster. Nootbaar isn't a free agent until after the 2027 season either, so he is very controllable and cheap compared to the free-agent outfielders.