The St. Louis Cardinals added catcher Pedro Pages to the 40-man roster rather than letting him fall into the Rule 5 Draft, thus making him available for all teams in baseball. While this appears to be a minor addition, it could have major ramifications on the Major League roster.
Currently, Willson Contreras, Andrew Knizner, Ivan Herrera, and Pedro Pages are all on the 40-man roster. That is probably one catcher too many to have on the 40-man roster, and if the Cardinals intend on signing at least one pitcher this offseason, they'll have to clear some space on the 40-man roster.
Andrew Knizner could be tendered a contract as an arbitration-eligible player this offseason. He accumulated 1.0 bWAR in 2023 with a .241/.288/.424 slash line and an OPS+ of 92. His defense is where he was able to make up some ground in his bat.
Ivan Herrera, on the other hand, did nothing but outhit opposing pitchers in AAA. He had a .297/.451/.500 slash line in Memphis in just under 300 at-bats. He could be an enticing trade piece for teams, but he is probably more valuable remaining on the Cardinals' roster.
Pedro Pages had an .805 OPS in AA Springfield this past year, and he is showing improvement on the defensive side of the ball as well. His inclusion on the 40-man roster appears to be a safety valve of sorts. The Cardinals see potential in him, and he would be serviceable in the depths of the organization should injuries or trades arise.
Speculation on how the Cardinals could handle this iffy situation has been rampant. The team could make their recent All-Star signee, Willson Contreras, a full-time designated hitter, but that is a lot of money to pay for a player who only plays one side of the ball. They could trade Ivan Herrera for a controllable starting pitcher, but then the team doesn't have an above-average backup catcher, and they lose their potential catcher of the future. The front office could also non-tender Andrew Knizner, but then they will be releasing a player who has proven MLB experience and could be an interesting trade piece.
John Mozeliak has plenty of options when it comes to the catching position for the Cardinals. Stay tuned to Redbird Rants for more offseason updates.