If the Cardinals don't re-sign Paul Goldschmidt, these 5 players could replace him

While the Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt still have many months to figure out an extension, this could be what life without the future Hall of Famer would look like.
Feb 19, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) practices at
Feb 19, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) practices at / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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Brendan Donovan

The super-utility man himself, Brendan Donovan has appeared at first base in 30 games in his first two big league seasons and started there for 16 of those games. While he doesn't fit the prototypical profile of a first baseman offensively, the Cardinals' lineup flexibility allows him to fill that position for them next year if needed.

The Cardinals have multiple power bats in their lineup at other positions, including Nolan Gorman, Jordan Walker, Nolan Arenado, and Willson Contreras. While you love to have someone who can slug playing first base, it's not the end of the world if you're getting power elsewhere.

Donovan was arguably the Cardinals' best hitter in 2023 before he had season-ending elbow surgery. After a slow start to the season, Donovan decided to get more aggressive at the plate, resulting in an elite 10-week stretch of hitting from late May through the end of July. He's an excellent player who the Cardinals are excited to have back in a regular capacity this season.

While Donovan does carry a lot of value from being a versatile player, his bat is good enough to settle him into a specific position. The Cardinals also have other guys who can jump around the field if needed in Tommy Edman and Thomas Saggese. If they felt like Donovan was their best internal option to play first base, I don't think they'd hesitate to position him for that.

While I wouldn't call Donovan the favorite to fill in at first base for the Cardinals if Goldschmidt leaves, I do see a world where this happens. The Cardinals find versatility to be a valuable trait, but they also believe players are best set up for success when they have a consistent role. This would be an opportunity to provide one for Donovan.