The St. Louis Cardinals appear to be done with most of their major business this off-season, signing Willson Contreras to succeed Yadier Molina behind the plate in 2023. While they may not make any other significant moves between now and Opening Day, they are reportedly looking to extend some of their arbitration-eligible players.
According to John Denton of MLB.com, the Cardinals had hopes of agreeing to long-term extensions with Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, Tommy Edman, and Ryan Helsley before the arbitration deadline on Friday. They were unable to do so, instead settling with Montgomery, Flaherty, and Edman while heading to arbitration with Helsley. This raises an interesting question, which of the four should the Cardinals prioritize in extension talks?
An argument can be made for all four of these players that it would be in the Cardinals' best interest to retain them for their long-term plans. Both Flaherty and Montgomery would add another arm to their 2024 rotation and beyond, that currently only has one returning member beyond this season in the form of Steven Matz. Ryan Helsley just had an incredible season as the club's closer, and will likely become expensive in arbitration if he repeats that again in 2023. Edman has become one of the most valuable position players for St. Louis, playing elite defense and being a consistent contributor for the lineup.
It's highly unlikely they'll be able to extend all four of them, but it is realistic to think that one or two of these players could receive a long-term extension before the regular season begins. Here is how I would rank the four players in terms of who the Cardinals should prioritize extending.