5. Dylan Carlson
In my trade deadline piece from the summer, I stated that Dylan Carlson was the most valuable Cardinal on the market. He is a young, controllable player who can hold his own in center field and has shown an ability, especially in the minors, to hit the ball well, particularly against left-handed pitchers. Carlson was a five-tool player who had the potential to hit well and play center field for the foreseeable future.
The story since his call-up in 2020 paints a different picture. 2020 was a strange year, especially for a rookie adjusting to the highest level of baseball. In 2021, he was able to maintain his rookie status and he finished the year as the fifth Rookie of the Year choice. He finished the year with a .266/.343/.437 slash line for an OPS+ of 115. Defensively that year, Carlson accumulated +3 Outs Above Average on the season. His five-tool potential was starting to show as a rookie.
Injuries then started hampering his ability to remain on the field in 2022 and 2023. He played in 128 and 79 games, respectively, in those years, and his OPS+ dropped to 99 in 2022 and 79 in 2023. He maintained his strong defense and even began showing great strides in center field, but his offense sputtered tremendously.
Carlson isn't a free agent until 2027, so he has three years of team control remaining. He is an intriguing buy-low candidate for a team, and he could bring back a buy-low starting pitcher in exchange. His value isn't what it once was, but his defense and offensive potential could be enticing to a team in search of outfield help.