The St. Louis Cardinals have taken flight with their first moves of the 2023-2024 offseason. They filled up their 40-man roster after selecting the contracts of pitchers Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse along with catcher Pedro Pages. In corresponding moves, pitcher Packy Naughton was outrighted to Triple-A and pitcher Connor Thomas was designated for assignment. 2022 Rule 5 pick Wilking Rodriguez elected free agency.
The additions of Kloffenstein and Pages were likely to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, where any other team could have claimed them. Kloffenstein and Robberse were the players the Cardinals acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for Jordan Hicks, while Pages has been in the organization since 2019.
Kloffenstein and Robberse will likely begin the 2024 season in Triple-A. Kloffenstein found success with the Cardinals organization after stagnating in the Blue Jays farm system, and Robberse is an arm from the Netherlands who could be a back-of-the-rotation starter.
The situation is a bit more interesting for Pages, as the Cardinals' glut of catching options behind Willson Contreras — Ivan Herrera, Andrew Knizner, and Pages — could portend a trade occurring in the near future to clear space behind the plate.
The Cardinals could also opt to non-tender Knizner before the Nov. 17 deadline. Pages is a strong defensive catcher who improved with the bat in 2023, with an .806 OPS.
Naughton pitched only five innings for the Cardinals in 2023 before missing the rest of the season with an injury, and he will likely be one of the first reinforcements called upon if a reliever goes down. Thomas struggled in Triple-A last season en route to a 5.53 ERA and 12.8 hits per nine innings, so the Cardinals don't seem poised to lose much if he leaves the organization.
Rodriguez was expected to spend the season on the 26-man roster given his Rule 5 status, but a shoulder injury just before opening day knocked him out for the season. The Cardinals could still try to sign the 33-year-old to a move conventional minor league contract.
The most intrigue is on the catching front with the Pages move, as the future of Herrera and Knizner within the organization is now highly uncertain. Expect the Cardinals to tinker with their roster more as we move toward the winter meetings.