Cardinals' Dylan Carlson may need a change of scenery

The former top prospect hasn't performed up to expectations in St. Louis. He, and the team, may benefit from a trade this year.
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

I have been a huge supporter of Dylan Carlson since he was just a prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He was a five-tool guy who was quiet and took care of his business. Once available, I jumped on the opportunity to buy his shirsey. I have closely followed the various highs and lows of his career, and I was optimistic that he could become a solid starting outfielder this year for the team.

That hasn't been the case, and I have also come to grips recently with the fact that perhaps Dylan's time in St. Louis may have to come to a close very soon.

Carlson's spring was tumultuous; his first ten games were miserable, his next 10 were stellar, and then he got hurt with just a few days left before Opening Day. Whatever positive momentum he had built up was eliminated, and Carlson instead had to work from behind to have a major presence on the roster this year.

He was activated from the injured list on May 6th, and he was immediately slotted into the centerfield spot. It took him 9 games after returning to log a hit, and he didn't record an extra-base hit until Friday night's game against the Colorado Rockies. His slash line sits at an abysmal .157/.259/.176 on the year with a 37 wRC+. Carlson has had the playing time and opportunities this year, but he hasn't been able to prove to Oliver Marmol and his staff that he's worthy of an everyday spot.

Since his rookie campaign in 2021, Carlson hasn't shown what once made him a top-15 prospect in all of baseball. While he's been able to capably play all 3 outfield spots, his offense hasn't been the same. Carlson's wOBA has steadily dropped each year, his ISO peaked at just .172 in 2021, and he's now striking out in more than 25% of his at-bats. He's drawing walks at an above-average rate (11.2%), but that means nothing if he can't get big hits.

All of this brings me to my key point: Dylan Carlson could benefit from a change of scenery. With the trade deadline nigh and the Cardinals possibly being buyers, the organization could swap Carlson for a pitcher in another organization who hasn't been able to put it all together either -- Reid Detmers of the Los Angeles Angels possibly.

Carlson still holds trade value; he'll be 25 for the entirety of this season, he was truly a stud prospect, he has one season where he was able to put it all together on his track record, and he's still under team control for 2.5 years, and he can play solid defense across the outfield. That type of player has some value to most teams. In order for John Mozeliak to capitalize on Carlson's dwindling trade value, the young outfielder would have to be dealt as a part of a package of players.

Carlson likely won't be a major player on these teams just yet, but the Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, and Minnesota Twins are all in need of corner outfielders, particularly ones that are right handed. Carlson's splits as a switch hitter have favored him when he bats right-handed.

It will be sad to see Dylan Carlson go away. Injuries have been the story of his time in St. Louis, and he has been (unfairly?) passed on the depth chart by teammates. The primary hope is that Carlson can see success wherever he may end up this trade deadline. The secondary hope is that whoever the Cardinals net in return is able to provide for the team down the stretch.