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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Outfield (4) - Jordan Walker, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson, and Alec Burleson

Based on recent events, I'm going to use this 2.0 version of our Opening Day roster prediction to look at a world where Tommy Edman begins the season on the injured list.

The Cardinals are still unsure when Edman will be fully cleared to play baseball as he recovers from offseason wrist surgery. The expectation since the surgery was revealed was that Edman would be ready to go by Opening Day, but it's become more and more unclear if that will happen.

I'm not sure what I'd put the actual odds of that right now, but considering the current state of things, let's assume Edman begins the year on the injured list for even just a few weeks.

While many would love to see Victor Scott II get the opportunity to run with the job in his absence (see what I did there?), it feels unlikely barring another injury and/or Scott having an incredible camp.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see him too, and even if he's not up on Opening Day, his talent will force a conversation all season long. I do think the Crawford signing complicates the situation a bit though.

With Crawford and Carpenter taking up two roster spots, and Herrera taking up the third, Scott would have to force the Cardinals to remove one of Alec Burleson or Dylan Carlson from the roster, something I don't see them doing soon.

Speaking of Burleson, Edman's injury may help him regain a roster spot on this team for the time being, but likely not for long. He brings a bit of redundancy off the bench being a left-handed bat with limited defensive versatility, so whenever Edman is healthy, I imagine Burleson will be down in Memphis.

Probably the biggest winner in this scenario is Carlson, who, due to Edman missing the beginning of the season, will get an opportunity to start in center field. Carlson is at a bit of a crossroads career wise right now, and needs a strong 2024 campaign to change the narrative around him.

If Carlson struggles, I do think it's possible we see Nootbaar slide over to center field in the interim while one of Donovan or Burleson slot into left field.

Just missed: Tommy Edman (assuming he begins season on IL) and Victor Scott II