Cardinals Opening Day Roster Prediction 2.0: How Brandon Crawford shakes things up

With a new signing, updated injury statuses, and pitching competitions underway, it's time to take a fresh look at the Opening Day roster.
Sep 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Tommy Edman (19) makes a
Sep 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Tommy Edman (19) makes a / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Infield (6) - Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Masyn Winn, Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, Brandon Crawford, and Matt Carpenter

While it's been a topic all offseason what the Cardinals would do for depth behind Masyn Winn and Tommy Edman at the shortstop position, I think it came as a surprise to most people when rumors began to circulate that the Cardinals would be looking to sign a veteran shortstop, which those rumors quickly turned into an official Crawford signing.

The reason all of that came together so suddenly is three-fold.

First, the Cardinals wanted to see what the health of Edman was like as camp began. Edman is still working through his recovery and is not fully cleared for baseball activities, and there is a chance he will be unable to go on Opening Day.

Second, the shortstop market finally heated up over the last week or so, as we saw Nick Ahmed, Tim Anderson, and Ahmed Rosario all signed deals with clubs after sitting on the free agent market all offseason. If the Cardinals were going to secure depth at that position, they had to act now, and my guess is almost none of these names, Crawford included, were open to becoming Winn's backup until recently as their options thinned.

Third, and a bit of a deviation from the offseason rhetoric, was that when Edman is healthy, the Cardinals are now saying they'd rather have him just focus on playing center field, rather than having to worry about being the backup shortstop as well.

How does this impact the Cardinals' infield group? Again, barring injuries, I think it all but guarantees that the names I listed above will make up the Cardinals' infield options to begin the year, no matter how well someone like Thomas Saggese plays. The Cardinals will be relying on the core of Goldschmidt, Arenado, Winn, Donovan, and Gorman to play almost every day, with one of those guys sneaking into the DH spot most days. I really don't imagine Carpenter playing very often.

While Winn should play most days, Crawford should see a bit more playing time than Carpenter as the backup to Winn, and the only player on the roster who can fill in at shortstop when needed, unless Edman is healthy. Something to watch for is that both Crawford and Carpenter are on Major League deals, so unless they get injured, there's a good chance they block other infielders from coming up to St. Louis unless they force the Cardinals' hand.

Just missed: Thomas Saggese, Jose Fermin, Jared Young, Luken Baker