(6) - Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Tommy Edman, Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, and Paul DeJong
The only change from my original list here is the removal of Juan Yepez (more on that in the outfield section), but there is actually a lot more competition brewing than this list would indicate.
Coming into Spring Training, Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan were set for a major competition at the second base position. Donovan was the obvious favorite to start at second base, but if all things went according to plan, Donovan would be able to bounce around the diamond while Gorman got a lot of playing time at second base when he was not the designated hitter. So far this spring, both players have been tearing the cover off the baseball (Gorman posting a 1.096 OPS and Donovan with a .889 OPS), and more importantly, Gorman has shown major strides defensively at second base.
What does that mean for St. Louis? Well you'll see it throughout this predictions list and any time Oli Marmol talks about this roster, but the club is going to look to maximize the upside of this roster. For as good as Brendan Donovan is, and he should play pretty much every day, Gorman's bat must be in the lineup if his improvements are for real. You'll see in my lineups later, but as of now, Donovan should have second base locked down in their "best lineups", but Gorman will DH or play second almost every day, and Donovan can slide over to a number of other positions.
Looking at the backup infielder role, most have assumed that Paul DeJong would retain that role to start the year, and for now, he has. In just 9 at-bats thus far, DeJong already has 2 home runs and is posting a 1.084 OPS, so with that salary number for this year, it makes sense to give him the first crack at the role. But if DeJong slips up, there are two guys that will be ready to take his job.
Taylor Motter was an under-the-radar pickup this offseason and should continue to challenge DeJong for a spot on the roster with his ability to play all over the diamond and solid spring at the plate (.780 OPS in 18 at-bats). He will push DeJong throughout the spring and into the season, but the real competition has come in the form of Masyn Winn.
Outside of Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn may be the most impressive player of camp so far. The maturity and development in his game has blown everyone away, and he may force the Cardinals' hand sooner rather than later. Winn's elite defensive skills and potential to be a top base stealer in today's game are now being coupled with major improvements at the plate, posting a .400/.471/.600 slash line in camp thus far. My hesitation with Winn has to do with playing time. He needs to be an everyday player right now. but how will he do so in St. Louis with the presence of Donovan, Gorman, and Tommy Edman?
If Winn keeps blowing everyone's socks off in camp, or a major injury happens, this could change, but right now, I don't see the 20-year-old breaking camp with St. Louis until there's a clear path toward playing time. Serving as the backup shortstop will not help his development, so if he's not the starting shortstop on Opening Day, his best role is playing every day in Memphis. But with how he is playing so far this spring, he may have accelerated his timeline from sometime in 2024 to a major piece of this Cardinals team at some point this season.