National analyst calls for Cardinals rebuild amidst rough start to 2024

Brian Kelly of MLB Network believes the Cardinals should be rebuilding this year rather than pushing to contend.
St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

For the first time in nearly two decades, the St. Louis Cardinals were sellers at the trade deadline. Unexpected results early in the season forced President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak's hand, and he had to become a seller at the deadline rather than his typical role as a buyer.

The purpose of trading players on expiring contracts like Jack Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery, and Jordan Hicks, among others, wasn't to go into a full-scale rebuild. Rather, the fire sale was designed to replenish the prospect pool in the minors without harming the major league roster dramatically. That goal was largely accomplished.

Players like Thomas Saggese, Tekoah Roby, and Sem Robberse have already started paying dividends in the minors. Mozeliak's moves at the 2023 deadline were more of a retool than a rebuild.

A rough start to 2024 -- albeit under the onus of one of the toughest schedules in baseball up to this point -- has reinvigorated the "Cardinals should rebuild" narrative that was prevalent throughout the summer of 2023. Rather than going into a full-scale rebuild this past offseason, Mozeliak and the Cardinals' brass decided to sign veteran starting pitchers and position players to round out the roster.

Sonny Gray, a top-tier starting pitcher in the game throughout his career, was brought on to lead the staff. Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson would eat some innings while providing quality starts. Role players such as Matt Carpenter would provide leadership and experience for young players like Masyn Winn, Jordan Walker, and Nolan Gorman.

The Cardinals' offseason plan signified a push for contention rather than a recession into oblivion and re-establishment.

Brian Kenny of MLB Network created a list of teams that should be rebuilding this year, and the Cardinals made that list. The Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres were also listed as teams that should be rebuilding.

"I'm not saying they should tear it down to the studs, but I thought they should rebuild."

Brian Kelly

Kelly and his co-host, Ruben Amaro, believed that since the Cardinals had to rebuild an entire rotation this offseason that they should have taken this offseason to rebuild. With Paul Goldschmidt's contract expiring at the end of the 2024 season, he could have been an excellent trade candidate even after a drop-off in production in 2023.

Rather than rebuilding this offseason, John Mozeliak doubled down on the roster and chose to add. If the season turns for the worse once again this year, the Cardinals will have to have another fire sale. Players like Paul Goldschmidt, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, Keynan Middleton, and Andrew Kittredge will all be free agents at the end of the year. St. Louis could also trade Ryan Helsley or other players in arbitration to get a high-end starting pitcher back.

The hope, obviously, is that the Cardinals put themselves in a position to add at this year's trade deadline. That starts with the offense catching fire soon. If the pitching can continue to be strong and the defense remains stout, St. Louis could push for the division title soon.