Players still want to come to the St. Louis Cardinals, and that's good for business

St. Louis is still a prime destination for baseball players, and that's a good thing for the Cardinals.
Sonny Gray
Sonny Gray / David Berding/GettyImages

For years, players spoke highly of their desire to play for the Cardinals and before the Best Fans in Baseball in St. Louis. Suppose you only paid attention to social media over the past few seasons. In that case, no one wants to play for St. Louis, citing many reasons, including cheap ownership and a manager who is more a puppet than a leader.

But if you listen to the actual players, St. Louis is still a place they want to be.

Albert Pujols cited the city and fans for returning to St. Louis for his final season. Yadier Molina loved the town and fans so much he spent his entire 19-season career with the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright also adored the city of St. Louis and Cardinals fans and was vocal about it in his final season with the Cardinals in 2023.

Over the years, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Ozzie Smith expressed their love for the community.

These are people you would expect to hear this from. But, if you tune out the noise from social media and the fair-weather fans, you'll notice it's more than just the people you expect to have adoration from St. Louis.

After the Diamondbacks traded him to St. Louis, Paul Goldschmidt signed a contract extension before playing a game with the Cardinals. It was known Nolan Arenado had a desire to play in St. Louis with the Cardinals. The Rockies traded Arenado to the Cardinals to make him happy, getting far less in return. And Willson Contreras told his agent to make a deal happen to get him to the Cardinals. Contreras noted a highly charged game between the Cubs and Cardinals and the crowd's response to a Pujols home run. Sounds about right.

The 2023 season was a real shot to the ego of many Cardinals fans. The expectations were too high for this version of the Cardinals, considering they made no moves to improve the glaring pitching issue. While adding Conteras was fun, pitching was the primary unmet need.

Here's what Sonny Gray had to say about the Cardinals in his introductory press conference:

That's exciting to hear from a guy who was a key arm in the Minnesota Twins rotation and a runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award. Gray has signed a three-year deal worth $75 million to be with the Cardinals.

Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson each signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals; both include options for 2025. The Cardinals drafted Lynn, who was a 2011 World Series Championship team member. Gibson played college ball at Mizzou and looks forward to playing in St. Louis.

More is needed, but getting Gray, Lynn, and Gibson improves the Cardinals over last season. The Cardinals still need more help, but it's nice to see that all the talk about St. Louis not being a place baseball players want to come to is just a fallacy. That will be helpful as they continue to retool the team.

St. Louis is still a place players want to come and soak in a winning culture. That is precisely what made the 2023 season so terrible. The Cardinals have players who want to be in St. Louis and can use these positive vibes to continue on their road to improvement and ultimately return to their winning ways.

With the Winter Meetings just around the corner, expect to see more players express a desire to come to St. Louis and play for the Cardinals.