Ranking the 10 most important St. Louis Cardinals players for the 2024 season

There's many crucial players to the Cardinals' success in 2024, but who are the most important?

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#3 - Tommy Edman

While Edman might be one of the Cardinals players fans view as "on the trade block," I think he's one of the most important players to the success of this team, at least in the early part of the season. Edman's health has been in question much of the offseason but it's critical that he's ready to go to open 2024. Should Masyn Winn struggle as he did last season, Edman is the team's insurance at shortstop. His offense which is around league average will sustain the Cardinals in the 9-spot while providing Platinum Glove-caliber defense at multiple positions.

Moreover, Edman is currently the Cardinals' Opening Day starter in center field. After being shifted to center due to injuries last season, the Cardinal found a surprise with Edman's glove. He's one of the most valuable defensive center fielders in all of baseball due to his speed and range. Sure, Victor Scott II will take over as a true 80-grade defender once he's ready, but that's a big if.

If Scott has an electric Spring, he could win the spot and break camp with the team, but I see no reason to rush his development. It makes more sense to let Scott develop in Triple-A to start the season as his bat hasn't developed nearly as much as Jordan Walker, the only prospect in recent memory that the Cardinals jump straight to MLB action. Moreover, if Scott is called up and is slow to start, Edman will serve as insurance in one of the most premium positions as well.

While he can't play as many positions as Donovan, Edman plays three premium defensive positions at an elite level and will accrue defensive WAR at an elite pace when right. Two of those positions, shortstop, and center field, are the positions that the Cardinals have the least depth at. Given the Cardinals' defensive struggles last season, having Edman healthy and effective is much more important than having him as a trade piece.