Too much can be made about waiver claims at times. It's pretty common for a team like the St. Louis Cardinals to add a player to their 40-man roster, to simply remove them later, or to have very little impact during their stint on it.
On Wednesday, the Cardinals claimed INF Buddy Kennedy off of waivers from the Oakland Athletics. In 101 Triple-A games this season for the Athletics and Diamondbacks, he slashed .308/.432/.455 with 5 HR and 50 RBI but has only posted a .592 OPS in his 40 Major League games. This should be viewed as a depth move by the Cardinals, but there are some interesting breadcrumbs to follow as well.
Derrick Goold articulated my very thoughts when I saw the move. Kennedy is not some game-changing move by St. Louis, but if they really are going to explore upgrading the rotation via trade this offseason, it's likely going to cost them one of their infield pieces. They could potentially do so by trading the likes of Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, or Alec Burleson, but there's a good chance a trade centering around Tommy Edman, Brendan Donovan, or Nolan Gorman would be the path toward a higher-end starter.
With Kennedy on board, he joins Edman, Donovan, Gorman, Masyn Winn, Thomas Saggese, Irving Lopez, Jose Fermin, and Juniel Querecuto as middle infield options on the 40-man roster. Querecuto and Fermin are likely gone this offseason, so grabbing someone like Kennedy gives them a stronger depth option should they pursue a trade.
If the Cardinals are unable to get one of those three starting pitchers they need by trading one or more of O'Neill, Carlson, or Burleson, then I think Tommy Edman becomes the immediate candidate to go. Winn is the shortstop of the future, and even if he struggles at the plate, his defense at shortstop should make him worth playing every day. Saggese can be a backup option there along with Donovan, and if things really go wrong, then they can look to bring in a veteran stopgap option. I just do not see a good reason to part with Donovan, Gorman, or Saggese over Edman.
Winn, Gorman, Donovan, and Saggese form a very strong middle infield unit for the Cardinals going into 2024, and a guy like Kennedy can be used here and there as a depth option if injuries happen. As the offseason unfolds, we'll see if that's how the Cardinals are thinking as well.