Major League Baseball's deadline to tender contracts to players was at 8 p.m EST on Friday, and the St. Louis Cardinals decided to non-tender Dakota Hudson, Jake Woodford, Andrew Knizner, and Juan Yepez
The decision not to tender a contract to Hudson or Woodford was not in the least bit surprising, but there were real questions as to whether or not the Cardinals would actually pull the trigger on that move.
Hudson was one of the "six starting pitchers" that John Mozeliak infamously spoke of in the spring, but did not take advantage of his opportunities this year. In 18 games with St. Louis, he had a 4.98 ERA and 5.06 FIP, continuing to struggle with walks and not finding enough swing-and-miss in his repertoire. Hudson was once a very promising talent, but he never got his command issues under control. He'll find a spot with another organization this offseason, while the Cardinals free up about $3.7 million in salary.
Woodford was only projected to make about $1.1 million in 2024, but with all of the other depth options the Cardinals have, there was no point paying him even that. His 6.23 ERA and 6.61 FIP just are not good enough for a team trying to contend, but I am sure Woodford will find a fresh start this offseason as well.
The two names that really comes as a surprise to many are Knizner and Yepez.
Knizner is someone I have been talking about the Cardinals non-tendering for a few weeks now. Knizner did have a nice year in 2023, proving he is a more than capable backup catcher for a Major League club. With Ivan Herrera clearly ready to be a regular part of the Cardinals' roster though, it seemed like the right time to let go of Knizner.
I wasn't confident the Cardinals would actually pull the trigger on that though, as Knizner is loved within the Cardinals clubhouse and received a lot of playing time last year. The free agent catching market is very thin though, so Knizner should be able to find a backup role on a contender or even a starting job with a team that is rebuilding.
Yepez had a solid rookie season in 2022 but it was clear even last offseason that he did not really have a role with the club going in 2023. Honestly, I don't understand why the Cardinals did not move him in a deal last winter while he was carrying some value. Instead, they stuck him in Triple-A for the year, hindering both his growth and ultimately his value on the trade market.
Yepez has the tools, especially at the plate, to contribute to a Major League roster in 2024, and I can't wait to see what he does with more consistent opportunities.
In total, the Cardinals free up about $7 million in salary and their 40-man roster sits at 36 now with these four moves, which will continue to help them in their pursuit of pitching upgrades this offseason.