8 steps the Cardinals should take to retool for 2025 if they fail again this year

The Cardinals have plenty of time to get into contention, but if things go south again, we may see them enter a true "retool" with young talent come July.
Arizona Diamondbacks v St. Louis Cardinals
Arizona Diamondbacks v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
4 of 8

Determine which players under contract beyond 2024 are a part of your future, explore trades for the rest

Outside of Sonny Gray here are two other names that St. Louis could consider shopping on the market and would hold quite a bit of value due to their talent and team control.

The first is closer Ryan Helsley, who's posted a 1.93 ERA with 8 saves already this year. Helsley dealt with an injury in 2023 that sidelined him for most of the year but looks like he's back to his elite self that we saw in 2022. Closers as good as Helsley don't grow on trees and can bring back a massive haul.

One thing I'd consider before dealing Helsley if I'm St. Louis is converting him to a starting pitcher, much like the Giants have done with former Cardinals' reliever, Jordan Hicks. Helsley was a starting pitcher as he was coming up in the Cardinals' system and did so with a lot of success. While of course he's a dominant closer now, there's no doubt he'd be even more valuable if he translated that stuff into a starter's role.

Now, it would require significant investment from the Cardinals and Helsley to attempt something like this, and they'd have to make some changes to his arsenal and pitching style like the Giants did with Hicks. In the worst-case scenario, they ramp him up as a starter in the offseason, it does not work, and he goes back to being a top-end reliever. In the best-case scenario, Helsley is able to become a front-line starter for the Cardinals. It sounds exactly like the kind of thing they should experiment with when retooling.

If they don't go that route, they could extend Helsley long-term and keep him as their closer, but it would probably make more sense to trade him for a haul of prospects instead.

Two more names that the Cardinals could look to shop are center fielders Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson. Edman is a free agent after the 2025 season and Carlson is a free agent after 2026, but with Lars Nootbaar, Jordan Walker, and Victor Scott II being their long-term outfield options, it would make sense to shop either guy if there is a club interested in upgrading their outfield.

Edman specifically could net them a good return, as he's proven to be a top-end defender at a variety of positions while providing league-average offense.

Still, there's one more name that the Cardinals would look to move if they retool, but this trade would get a lot more complicated, which is why I want to address it individually on the next slide.