1. Nolan Gorman
Nolan Gorman was one of the most anticipated prospect debuts in recent Cardinal history after tearing up AAA Memphis last season. Gorman got his first full taste of the big leagues last season, hitting 14 home runs with a .721 OPS in 89 games.
This season, Gorman has been one of the Cardinals' best hitters. He has slugged a team-high 22 home runs and has driven in 65. His OPS has consistently ranked among the highest on the team, and his OPS+ trails only Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Lars Nootbaar.
He has been hindered defensively over the last week with a lower-body injury, but he should be ready to take back the second base roll from Cardinals utility player Taylor Motter. Gorman's defense, meanwhile, has improved drastically this season.
Gorman is the prototypical baseball player in 2023. He hits for power and not a lot else. His batting average sits around .240 and will likely stay there for most of his career, but he also has the potential to hit 40 home runs in a season.
The market for a slugging second baseman figured to be strong for the Cardinals over the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. If St. Louis had moved on from Gorman, the return had to have been an established major league starting pitcher.
Even if the Cardinals had managed to snag Logan Gilbert from the Seattle Mariners, there is no doubt that Gorman's offensive presence would be missing from the roster over the next five years.
With the amount of potential and team control that Gorman possesses, it was the right move to hang on to the 23-year-old, and he should become a prime candidate for a classic Spring Training extension next winter.