The 10 Cardinals with the most to prove during Spring Training

Coming off a terrible 2023 season, these ten Cardinals have a lot to prove as Spring Training gets underway.

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs - Game One
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs - Game One / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
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Paul Goldschmidt

After winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2022, Paul Goldschmidt took a major step back offensively in 2023, much more than anyone really expected.

Getting into his mid-30s, it was fair to expect regression from Goldschmidt in 2023, but seeing his OPS drop from .981 to .810 in just one season was a steep decline. Goldschmidt was still a very good hitter last year, but far from the guy we have grown accustomed to watching.

Goldschmidt is in a contract year, and neither side is looking to talk about an extension currently. There are a lot of reasons for that, but both sides really do want to see how this year plays out before they commit to each other long-term. The Cardinals don't want to hand out a large number to a guy who may be in rapid decline, while Goldschmidt wants to be able to contend for a World Series.

I think both sides want a deal to work out in the end, but Goldschmidt will need to prove he's got more left in the tank this season for that to become a reality.

I'm sure Goldschmidt will have plenty of suitors this offseason if a deal with St. Louis cannot work out, but his performance on the field will surely dictate the number he receives. While the Cardinals would love a scenario where Goldschmidt finishes his career in St. Louis, guys like Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, Alec Burleson, or even Willson Contreras could shift to first base, so they don't have pressure to make that happen.

Goldschmidt has also stated that he pushed hard for the Cardinals' to bring in Matt Carpenter this offseason to help with leadership in the clubhouse, so there's a bit of added pressure on Goldschmidt to go out and perform now that St. Louis has brought in a guy to relieve some of that leadership pressure from his shoulders.