Cardinals rumors: MLB insider lists Cardinals' former top prospect as trade candidate

Mark Feinsand of MLB Network put together an "All-Trade Rumor Team". One Cardinal outfielder made the cut.

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago White Sox / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

MLB Network's Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter for the network, put together a collection of the most talented players who could be traded this upcoming season. The St. Louis Cardinals' own outfielder Dylan Carlson made the list. Carlson, still only 25, was once a top-15 prospect in all of baseball, and he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2021.

Feinsand did state, however, that it is unlikely St. Louis will trade away their young outfielder. He has two more years of control, he is cheap, he is a switch-hitting fourth outfielder who can capably play center field, and the prospect pedigree is still in his DNA.

"Carlson is set to earn $2.35 million in 2024 and is arbitration-eligible for two more years before becoming a free agent. There is no urgency to move Carlson now, but if a club comes calling for outfield help, he could be a chip for the Cardinals to use to address other areas of need."

Mark Feinsand

In 2021, Dylan Carlson slashed .266/.343/.437 with 18 home runs and a 115 OPS+. It appeared that he was starting to show the promise he had as a prospect. He was virtually a league-average defender according to Outs Above Average in center field and left field, and he had an above-league-average bat at just 22 years old. Carlson appeared to be, for all intents and purposes, an outfielder of the future for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Injuries were the downfall for Dylan Carlson in 2022 and 2023. He has played only 204 games since his rookie season, and he hasn't had an OPS greater than .695 in either of those seasons. His defense, particularly in center field, has remained steady, but his offense has cratered. Part of the reason for his struggles offensively can be attributed to his virtual inability to hit right-handed pitchers.

Switch hitters, ideally, will have relatively even splits. That isn't the case with Carlson. There is a .176-point gap in his OPS between his right-handed stats and his left-handed stats. This could be a case for him ditching switch-hitting altogether and instead being just a right-handed batter. While that decision may be a bit rushed, it is something to keep an eye on.

Carlson was the topic of conversation for a trade this past offseason. Instead of dealing their young, controllable outfielder, the Cardinals instead shifted to shipping off Tyler O'Neill. The St. Louis brass seem to have some trust and belief in their young outfielder, but his leash gets shorter with each month of underperformance. Mark Feinsand believes there is a possibility that Dylan Carlson will be traded this year, and if St. Louis's need for pitching swells, Carlson could be a part of that package.