Breaking down the St. Louis Cardinals' arbitration projections

The Cardinals have nine players eligible for a new contract through arbitration this offseason. Who could be overpaid based on projections?

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Tommy Edman

Tommy Edman's arbitration case is challenging to decipher. While he has been primarily a shortstop, he has also logged ample innings at second base and center field. Therefore, the positional aspect of his arbitration case gets a bit murkier. His career offensive stats, a .265/.319/.408 slash line, has been exactly league average over his 5 seasons in the majors.

Edman has won a Gold Glove before, and he has been fairly consistent in his 2,425 plate appearances. MLB Trade Rumors predicts his arbitration case to land right around $6.5 million. This would be the highest figure for the Cardinals this year, and it would be a decent increase from the $4.2 million that he agreed to last year. The question remains: is this a good value?

Most of Edman's dollar figure will be bolstered by his defensive prowess and versatility. He is a decent offensive player, but his main value comes in his ability to play multiple positions well. As a shortstop for his career, Edman has accumulated 16 Outs Above Average, 5 OAA in right field, 10 OAA at third base, 20 OAA at second base, and 6 OAA in center. Those numbers are very strong, and he has played at two premier defensive spots in shortstop and center field.

The closest player who had an arbitration case with around 4 years of service time and who has a similar offensive profile to Edman would be Jurickson Profar after the 2019 season. Up to that point in his career, Profar had a slash line of .234/.315/.394 for an OPS+ of 89. However, Profar's defense didn't hold a candle to Edman's. They played similar positions, but Profar had a -22 OAA total across five positions. That year, Profar and the Athletics agreed to a dollar figure of $3.6 million. Given Edman's slightly better offense and 3 years of inflation, Edman's figure makes sense when compared to Jurickson Profar's figure from 2020.

A strong defensive comp to Edman would be Chris Taylor. Taylor had around 4 years of service time after the 2020 season. He played for the Dodgers at that point and was a Swiss Army Knife of a player. He had logged innings at third base, shortstop, second base, center field, left field, and right field. He had racked up 12 Outs Above Average, so his defensive value is closer to Edman's. Taylor's offensive profile was better than Edman's, however. Across 218 plate appearances, Chris Taylor had a slash line of .263/.33/.444 for an OPS+ of 109. Taylor's better offense balances out his weaker defense when compared to Edman.

Chris Taylor agreed to a $3.5 million arbitration total after the 2019 season. He then had his arbitration bought out in 2020 and 2021 for a contract with an AAV of $7.7 million. Edman's $6.5 million projection seems reasonable given his performance when compared with similar players.