It is very easy to look back at previous deals and players who went unsigned for the Cardinals and think "Surely, they would do better than the players we retained." While that may be the case for some positions, the Cardinals appear to be doing well with the roster they currently have compared to former players. What would a roster of all ex-Cardinals look like?
Some stipulations for this exercise: the players chosen must have started multiple games at that particular position. While Marcell Ozuna is having a good season and has played in left field, 2 games out of 131 games in left field is not a sufficient amount played to count him in the outfield. Another stipulation is that the player chosen must have played games at the major league level in St. Louis. Prospects will not be counted.
Let's take a look at former Cardinals players at a variety of positions and if this team of ex-Cardinals would be better than the current roster.
Catcher: Carson Kelly
Carson Kelly is the best option out of a handful of bad former catchers from the Cardinals system. Though Kelly was once touted as a stout defender with a capable bat, he has since fallen very quickly. In 2023, Kelly has accrued -0.2 WAR with a slash line of .202/.262/.269 for an OPS+ of 48. Kelly has had a bad season, but he is the best catcher who once played for the Cardinals.
First Base: Matt Carpenter
First base is another position that has seen former Cardinals players struggle. Matt Carpenter would be the starter for a team of ex-Cardinals in 2023. He, too, has -0.2 WAR for the 2023 season, but he has played 13 games at first base, thus qualifying him for this exercise. Carpenter has a slash line of .176/.322/.319 for an OPS+ of 82. Carp's 17.3% walk percentage is helping him stay relevant, but the rest of his offensive and defensive profile isn't helping his case to be a starter.
Second Base: Kolten Wong
With the emergence of Nolan Gorman, the front office decided to let various second basemen go. Kolten Wong was a fan favorite for many years. Since his departure, Wong has played for Milwaukee, Seattle, and most recently the Dodgers. Wong has a slash line of .169/.242/.256 for an OPS+ of 40. Wong's WAR total sits heavily in the negatives at -1.2. He has had an uninspiring season. The Cardinals should be happy they have stuck with Edman, Donovan, and Gorman at second base this year.
Third Base: Edmundo Sosa
Edmundo Sosa was a role player for the Cardinals. He was able to play multiple positions with relative competence. However, the team wanted top prospect Nolan Gorman to get more run at second base, and Nolan Arenado wasn't giving up any playing time at the hot corner. Therefore, the Cardinals traded Sosa for reliever Jojo Romero. This year, Sosa has played third base primarily (80 games). He has a .257/.300/.435 slash line, good for a 98 OPS+. Sosa would be much more serviceable than the other former third basemen.
Shortstop: Paul DeJong
Do you miss him yet? Paul DeJong was the one player on the Cardinals who would evoke a strong reaction from every fan in every direction. Either you loved his defense and lived with his bat, or you wanted him gone more and more as each day passed. Since DeJong was traded, he has not hit the ball well at all. In his 29 games for Toronto and San Francisco, he has a negative OPS+, a batting average well below .150, and has struck out 34 times to 0 walks. DeJong would not be a good replacement as a former Cardinal, but he has been the best shortstop to leave the team.