While most of the discussion surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals had focused on how they'll handle their pitching staff this offseason, another position remains in flux for the club - center field.
At first glance, the Cardinals have multiple options to turn to going forward. Lars Nootbaar is clearly the best player out of their internal options, but they seem to prefer him in the corner outfield long-term. The Cardinals seem to feel the same about Tyler O'Neill and Dylan Carlson as well, with added uncertainty about their futures with the club.
They've even given Tommy Edman some run in center field, and although he's shown flashes defensively, I don't think he's done enough to run away with the job for 2024.
The Cardinals claimed center fielder Michael Siani off waivers the other day, and this was yet another move that shows that St. Louis is unsure of how they will handle that position moving forward.
It's clear that the club's defense has regressed in a major way this season, and they have sorely missed having elite defense in center field. Obviously, Jordan Walker's struggles in right field and the fiasco with Willson Contreras have been bigger issues, they may see an opportunity to upgrade the defense by better leveraging center field.
By mid-2024 or 2025, I would bet we see Victor Scott II roaming center field for them. He is tearing up Double-A this season with his plus-plus speed and plus-plus defense and could be their long-term answer out there. I interviewed Scott II on my podcast recently and he's the kind of guy fans are going to love when he makes his debut.
How the Cardinals structure their outfield in 2024 will have a major impact on their defense and their lineup. There are four different ways they can utilize their outfield to start 2024, so let's look at the ramifications of each of those.