5 unpopular decisions the Cardinals have made that ended up being right

The Cardinals have made a lot of mistakes in recent years, but these five decisions ultimately were best for both fans and they organization.
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4. Deciding not to sell the farm system for Juan Soto

This is a hill I will die on that I'm honestly surprised more fans do not agree with. If the Cardinals had traded for Juan Soto at the 2022 Trade Deadline, the organization would be in the midst of a full-scale rebuild, the likes we have not seen in St. Louis during the entire DeWitt era...

Let me explain.

Context is key with every potential transaction. I was all in on the idea of a Soto trade at the time, until I saw the price the Padres ended up paying. I've written about this a few times now, but trading for Juan Soto was not as simple as the Cardinals not wanting to trade Dylan Carlson. The deal would have required the Cardinals to give up a historic haul, something the Padres ultimately wound up doing.

While it's not possible to know the exact package the Nationals would have accepted for Soto from St. Louis, comparing the Cardinals' assets from that time to the package San Diego gave up, it would have wound up looking something like this...

Cardinals receive: Juan Soto

Nationals receive: Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman, Matthew Liberatore, Masyn Winn, Tink Hence, and Dylan Carlson.

Don't believe me? Check out this story I wrote in January where I compared the Padres package in depth to that haul St. Louis would have had to give up.

Juan Soto is on track to be one of the best players we have ever seen play this game, so it feels really odd to say St. Louis should not have jumped at the opportunity to grab him. The problem had nothing to do with Soto's talent level and everything to do with how much worse the Cardinals' situation would have been in the last 12 or so months if they had pulled off such a deal.

Maybe they make a deeper run in the postseason that would have made it worthwhile in 2022, but assuming they wouldn't have, Juan Soto and his $23 million price tag in 2023 would have kept the Cardinals from making the upgrades they needed to make, and let's just be honest, they probably weren't going to give him the kind of extension he'd need to resign.

So the Cardinals, coming into this past offseason, would probably have needed to not just trade Soto as the Padres did, but they'd also likely need to go into full rebuild mode, moving on from the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and others as well. Why? Well, they'd be coming off their worst season in decades and have most of their emerging young core playing in the nation's capital instead of St. Louis.

Now, if the Cardinals operated with a larger budget (like they should) and had managed their farm system better in recent years, they could have been aggressive here. Even so, it's hard to convince me that two and a half years of Soto is a better idea than having Walker, Gorman, Hence, Winn, and others under team control for a long time.