7 players who could contend for the Cardinals' final bench spot in 2024

With the departure of Richie Palacios, someone else gets to try and make St. Louis's roster out of Spring Training.

Wichita Wind Surge v Frisco RoughRiders
Wichita Wind Surge v Frisco RoughRiders / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages
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On January 5th, the St. Louis Cardinals probably closed the books on their offseason with the trade of Richie Palacios. In exchange for the young utility player, the Cardinals brought in reliever Andrew Kittredge. Kittredge, a former All-Star, will slot in toward the back of the bullpen. His high-leverage experience will be an excellent addition to a bullpen that was one or two pieces shy of being good.

Palacios's departure creates an open roster spot for someone else on the roster. His ability to play multiple outfield and infield positions was vital, and hopefully, the team is able to find that production within its own minor-league pipeline.

After the 2023 Trade Deadline, the Cardinals have a long list of capable players who can provide at the highest level of domestic baseball. Today, I'm going to identify a collection of players who could slot into the final roster spot in 2024 and help the team.

I will try my best to make a case for each player, but some are more obvious fits. For example, while Luken Baker has clearly earned an MLB roster spot, his one-dimensional approach defensively could hamper his case. For what it's worth, FanGraphs Roster Resource page lists INF/OF Jared Young as the team's twenty-sixth man.

Luken Baker

Let's jump right in with Luken Baker. Baker is a strong offensive player. He has a career .264/.344/.486 slash line in the minors and his most recent showing in AAA Memphis (thirty-three home runs in just eighty-four games) bolsters his case to be the team's backup first baseman/designated hitter.

The issue for Baker arises in his ability to only play first base or designated hitter. The Cardinals have plenty of players already who can do that. Paul Goldschmidt, Alec Burleson, and Willson Contreras can all fill that void, and the team needs players who can play shortstop in a pinch, especially if Masyn Winn, Tommy Edman, or Dylan Carlson underperform or get hurt. Baker is on the 40-man roster.