The St. Louis Cardinals' biggest move of the off-season was bringing in star catcher Willson Contreras, who after signing a five-year deal, projects to be the club's starting backstop for years to come. With the presence of prospect Ivan Herrera and other catching options developing in the organization, it is fair to wonder whether or not Andrew Knizner has much of a future behind the dish for the Cardinals.
Knizner got his first significant audition for the job in 2022, playing in 96 games but only slashing .215/.301/.300 with 4 HR and 25 RBI. His defense is not anything special either, making his upside seem fairly limited as he enters his age 28 season.
John Mozeliak was not shy in saying that a catcher was a huge need for them in 2023, which is a bit indicative of how they feel about him moving forward. Consider this quote Mozeliak had back at the Winter Meetings.
"“The good news is, we feel like there are multiple options out there,” Mozeliak said. “I don’t feel like we’re leveraged one way or another. Maybe the most important takeaway is, what you don’t want to have happen is that when the music stops, you are left standing.""- John Mozeliak
Yikes. Comparing missing out on the catching options as losing a game of musical chairs clearly indicates that they do not trust their current options. And handing out a lucrative long-term contract to a catcher does not show much faith that their internal options will improve enough in the near future.
I would say that this is most indicative of Knizner. The club aggressively promoted Herrera last year, and likely believes he still has a strong future but is still a few years away from being an everyday catcher. They have other options lower in the system who could become legit names in the next few seasons, but again, still a ways off.
If Knizner does not take steps forward in his development in 2023, I would guess he is not on the club in 2024, as Herrera will need to begin to see playing time as well. Even if he does, I think he's fighting a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to his place on the depth chart long-term.