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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Alec Burleson

When it comes to the 2024 season, the Cardinals have put Alec Burleson in a weird spot. They have been high on his bat for two years now, and although the on-field results weren't there in 2023, his expected numbers at the plate showed he was among the unluckiest players in all of baseball.

But ever since the Matt Carpenter signing, it's become less and less clear what Burleson's role with the club would look like in 2024. Since the Brandon Crawford signing, it now looks like Burleson is on the outside looking in when it comes to the Cardinals roster unless someone like Tommy Edman has to begin the year on the injured list.

Even with Burleson's situation getting muddy, I don't believe that rules him out of the conversation to play first base going forward. A major reason why his playing time is so cloudy is because that's the position he is best suited for right now. While Burleson has put in work to improve as an outfielder defensively, the club likely views him as a first baseman in a perfect world.

With Goldschmidt playing most days there and now Carpenter able to fill in there as well, it seems unlikely that Burleson gets significant playing time. Even with the designated hitter spot, there are not a lot of at-bats to go around there after guys like Goldschmidt, Donovan, Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras, and Nolan Gorman getting starts there.

Like Donovan, I would not call Burleson the favorite to play first base if Goldschmidt left, but he is a viable option and would likely be considered if he's not used as a trade chip before then.