Three months from today, the St. Louis Cardinals will be facing off against the superteam that has been forming this offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers, beginning what is hopefully a bounce-back season after a disastrous 2023 campaign.
There is still a lot of offseason left to go, but we are already getting a pretty good idea of how the Cardinals' Opening Day roster is shaping up at the moment. It's likely that they'll add a bullpen arm or two through free agency in the next few months that will change some of this, and now that Yoshinobu Yamamoto has signed, the markets for potential starting pitching trade targets will start to take shape.
As things currently stand, this is how I see the Cardinals' Opening Day roster, projected starting lineups, and usage of their starting pitchers and bullpen arms will shake out.
(2) - Willson Contreras and Ivan Herrera
This is easy. Barring an injury to Contreras or Herrera, they will be the Cardinals' catchers on Opening Day this year.
After a crazy first season with St. Louis, Contreras comes into Spring Training with a vote of confidence from the Cardinals, and they gave him some things to work on over the offseason to further entrench himself as the club's starting catcher. Contreras will still get a lot of starts at the designated hitter spot, but right now there is no question that he is the club's primary catcher.
Herrera is replacing Andrew Knizner on this roster and is expected to have a large role with St. Louis this year. Contreras will likely catch between 90-100 games for the Cardinals, leaving about 60-70 appearances for Herrera to shine. After winning the Cardinals' Minor League Player of the Year award, Herrera is ready to be a significant contributor for a Major League club.
Pages was added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster this offseason and will likely get some run in St. Louis if an injury occurs. Pages is a defensive-minded catcher who could be a nice balance to the offensive profiles of Contreras and Herrera, although I don't see him finding a role beyond one that's created by injuries.