The last calendar year has felt more like a soap opera than the well-oiled machine that the St. Louis Cardinals tend to advertise themselves as.
While fans can be guilty of overreacting to things, the Cardinals drama has mostly been self-imposed. It wasn't just a disastrous season results-wise. The Cardinals ran into drama with how they handled Willson Contreras, Tyler O'Neill, the Nolan Arenado trade rumors, and especially how they communicated with fans and media regarding Cardinals' injuries.
Adam Wainwright pitched the majority of the 2023 season with a partially torn labrum and won his 200th game with a fully torn labrum, but whenever the media asked about Wainwright's health, the Cardinals did not communicate the injury. Nolan Gorman dealt with back injuries all year, and it was only recently communicated that it stemmed from lifting back in 2020. Now most recently, the Cardinals are sharing new information regarding Tommy Edman's health, and it could have a major impact on the club's plans in 2024.
In John Denton's story on MLB.com, John Mozeliak told him that Edman had arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist in October, brand new information that Mozeliak did not share at all this offseason. We've already covered why this adds to Cardinals' fans frustration towards the front office, but I wanted to take a look at how Edman's injury could shake up the Cardinals roster, whether it's for Opening Day or later into the season.
Edman's wrist injury could open the door for Dylan Carlson or Victor Scott II to win the center field job
Before we even go down the road of why this could impact Edman's role as the starting center fielder, it's important to remember that all offseason, Mozeliak and Marmol have both talked about Edman as the starter in center. It's clear that their expectation is Edman will be ready for Spring Training and all things will go according as planned.
But, it's fair to wonder what happens if Edman is not the same this spring or if his recovery turns out to be slower than they thought. Wrist injuries are notorious for zapping power from a player's approach at the plate. For Edman, that may not be a huge deal since he's a contact-oriented hitter, but it's still a cause for concern. The hope would be that surgery fixes the issue and Edman comes back stronger in 2024 after a down year at the plate, but if he does not, it could explain why Edman saw a dip with his bat and that could continue this coming season.
We saw at the end of 2022 what a wrist injury can do to a player's performance. Dylan Carlson hurt his wrist and it dramatically impacted his performance at the plate. If Edman is not able to reach full health in his wrist by the start of the season, he may be compromised at the plate and the door could open for Carlson or Victor Scott II to win the starting job.
Carlson is currently the fourth outfielder on the club, but is someone who as recently as 2021 was a top prospect in baseball and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. He will be coming into Spring Training motivated to jump back into the starting outfield conversation. I recently predicted that Carlson would win the starting center field job for Opening Day, and this surely helps that case.
Scott is one of the most exciting prospects in the Cardinals' system, and he's someone that St. Louis believes will be a major part of their outfield in the near future because of his elite speed and defense. His rapid development at the plate has given him an outside shot of debuting in St. Louis early on in 2024, and a compromised Edman would open up his chances further. If you want to get to know Scott further, you can check out my conversation with him on the Noot News Podcast.
With Edman being the Cardinals' only viable shortstop option other than Masyn Winn for the Major League roster, they need to be careful with him and keep him as healthy as they can, as they would be in a jam if he's unable to maintain a regular role with the club. Another exciting prospect, Thomas Saggese, could provide depth there, but he profiles better defensively at third base or second base.
Again, the Cardinals expect Edman to be ready for Spring Training, but it's a situation worth monitoring closely over the coming weeks.