Going into 2022, Ivan Herrera was considered the heir apparent to the throne of Yadier Molina. Now, going into spring training, Herrera has become expendable.
So, what has changed? To begin with, the signing of the former Cub Willson Contreras to a five-year contract. The 30-year-old is now expected to be the mainstay behind the plate for the Cardinals for the next several seasons.
Although Contreras is considered only to be a decent or adequate glove, his attraction to the Cardinals is primarily his right-handed bat. The veteran backstop has a career OPS of .808 and an OPS+ of 115. Additionally, he can add some power to the Cardinals lineup by popping 20+ HR a year.
On the other hand, Herrera projects well as a strong glove, but his offensive ceiling is considered in question. The Cardinals needed more offensive production from their catcher position. Waiting to see how Herrera's bat developed, seemed to be chancy.
Finally, there are two other reasons for Herrera's expendability. First, Andrew Knizner provides a capable defensive backup to Contreras. Second, there is a prospect named Lenardo Bernal who is opening their eyes at Palm Beach. He is a switch hitter who has good hitting tools and is considered to have advanced defensive skills at this point in his career.
Herrera is still considered to be a quality-catching prospect and would draw interest from other clubs. An organization that could give the 22-year-old a little more time to develop would make Hererra an attractive trade piece.
Whether it's a left-handed bat, a top of the rotation type pitcher, or just added help to the bullpen, I believe the Cardinals have the resources in the farm system to improve the roster. In my opinion, Luken Baker, Matthew Liberatore, and Ivan Herrerra still have good value and could be moved to help address a roster need.