In what is expected to be an entertaining, rumor-swirling offseason involving the Cardinals, we could see a versatile switch-hitting center fielder on the move.
Dylan Carlson was the 33rd overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft as a compensation pick for John Lackey signing with the Cubs in free agency. He made a quick rise in the Cardinal farm system, getting to the big leagues during the 2020 season at the age of 21, he ended that season as the Cardinals' top prospect according to MLB.com.
The following season Carlson had an impressive rookie campaign, slashing .266/.343/.437 with 18 home runs and 65 RBI, and he finished 3rd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, Unfortunately for Carlson, he has not been able to stay healthy over the past couple seasons and it has affected his play. His overall offensive numbers are down across the board, and he was limited to just 76 games in 2023.
So why would the Cardinals consider trading Carlson? When he was out due to injury the Cardinals seemed to be impressed with Tommy Edman in center field, and it may be the only spot for Edman if Masyn Winn is going to be the starting shortstop in 2024. Also, prospect Victor Scott II has put himself on the map as one of the more exciting Cardinal prospects in recent memory, he could find himself with the big club sooner than we think. For the corner outfield spots, Jordan Walker and Lars Nootbaar seem to be the most likely candidates for those positions, but Carlson may be left out of the equation.
With Carlson only being 25 years old with plenty of upside, he could attract other teams this off-season that are looking for a young outfielder with five-tool qualities. We have heard rumors regarding a couple of teams that have engaged in interest for Carlson, and there are some teams that we have not heard in the rumor mill but would make sense. But the most recent reporting has been on a team that the Cardinals traded with three times during the 2023 season.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
Several reports say that the Blue Jays have an interest in acquiring Carlson. And some of the reports have suggested that the Cardinals could see pitcher Alek Manoah as part of the return for him.
After Manoah was an All-Star pitcher and Cy Young finalist in 2022, he had an abysmal 2023 season that led to multiple demotions to the minor league and major question marks regarding his ability to get back to where he was two seasons ago.
A Carlson for Manoah trade would include two players who have had the high prospect label on them for several years, and have shown some promise at the big-league level but have not had the level of consistency that you'd want to see. And maybe a change of scenery for both of those players could be beneficial for them.
For the Blue Jays, Kevin Kiermaier is a free agent, so they are looking for someone similar to him from a defensive standpoint in center field if they can't re-sign him. It has been reported that the Jays have also shown interest in Michael A. Taylor who fits the build as well as a defense-first center fielder with some offensive upside. So it is obvious as to what the Blue Jays want in regards to a center fielder, Carlson would surely fit their needs.