Three prospects the Cardinals must avoid trading this offseason

Plenty has been said about "untouchables" on the major league roster. Today, I'll outline why the Cardinals must avoid trading three prospects.
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages
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SS Masyn Winn

Winn finished the season just inside of MLB Pipeline's top 30 prospects, and he ranked at the top of the Cardinals' farm system. This ranking is well-earned. He had an outstanding season at the AAA level. Winn's bat took major steps forward, especially in the power department. After a cold start, Winn caught fire in May and mashed all summer long. The Cardinals called Winn up in August, later than many fans had hoped.

Following his call-up, Winn endured a difficult stretch at the plate. He struggled to hit for power and struck out more than he had in the minors. In 122 at-bats, he registered an OPS of .467, good for a 29 OPS+. However, he continued to shine defensively. Winn's arm immediately broke statcast! His range was equally impressive. He boasted a strong .980 fielding percentage. Unfortunately, he didn't reach base enough to show off his wheels, but that's a tool that certainly hasn't gone away.

How to digest that stretch is quite the conundrum. Is Winn still as exciting as he was before his call-up? I'd argue he's every bit as exciting. The Cardinals saw his three most vaunted tools translate well to the big leagues. His offensive struggles are understandable. After all, he hasn't even celebrated his 22nd birthday! It will take Winn some time to figure out major-league pitching. This is merely the continuation of a well-established pattern in the minors. At each stop, Winn took several weeks (sometimes months) to acclimate. Then, he excelled. Even if he doesn't emerge as a legitimate power threat, Winn will be close to league average offensively. That, paired with his defense, is a very valuable player. Having Winn at shortstop every day will go a long way toward solving the defensive problems that plagued the 2023 team.

But, as with the previous two players, that isn't the primary reason the team shouldn't trade him. The Cardinals shouldn't trade Winn because they lack organizational depth at his position. Sure, the major league roster has a few guys capable of playing shortstop. Edman is an excellent defender at the position, and Donovan is passable. But, outside of them, there aren't a ton of options. As I mentioned earlier, Edman will be out within the next year, and the Cardinals will have no full-time options outside of Winn. The only other interesting prospect at shortstop is an 18-year-old who just struggled at Palm Beach. Jonathan Mejia has exciting tools, but he's nowhere near major league-ready.

As with Scott, trading Winn would hamstring the organization long term. They'd be forced to acquire outside talent. Unfortunately, that market does not exist at the moment. After two strong shortstop classes reached free agency in 2022 and 2023, the 2024 class is underwhelming. If the Cardinals were going to go that route, they needed to do so a year or two ago. Now, they're locked in with Winn, meaning they should do whatever it takes to keep him.

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