Using past retooling teams as a template for the Cardinals

Rather than tearing it down and rebuilding, the St. Louis Cardinals will likely retool this year once again. These past retools provide a good blueprint.
League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Seven
League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages
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2015 Nationals into 2016 season

2015 record: 83-79 (2nd in National League East)
2016 Record: 95-67 (1st in National League East, lost in NLDS)

At the time of the 2015 trade deadline, the Nationals sat in first place in their division with a 54-47 record. They added closer Jonathan Papelbon for Nick Pivetta in an attempt to go all in that year. It did not work out, and the team ended up missing the playoffs altogether.

The biggest change for the Washington Nationals after missing out on the playoffs in 2015 was within their coaching staff. The manager, Mike Williams, and his entire staff were fired. Washington interviewed a handful of big-name coaches including Alex Cora, Bud Black, Dusty Baker, and Ron Gardenhire. They ended up hiring Dusty Baker to be their manager.

Baker brought on Mike Maddux as the pitching coach; he brought back first base coach Davey Lopes, and Rick Schu and Bob Henley were added as the hitting coach and third base coach, respectively.

The Nationals let Ian Desmond, Denard Span, and Jordan Zimmerman become free agents. This freed up financial space for acquisitions. December for the Nationals was quite active. They added players such as Daniel Murphy, Stephen Drew, Drew Storen, and Yusmeiro Petit to shore up the lineup. Major acquisitions weren't necessary, because Washington had Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, and Michael A. Taylor as rising young players.

Washington's rotation was its strongest aspect with players like Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg returning in 2016. Tanner Roark was a pitcher on the rise as well. Though the Nationals did not make it far in the playoffs, their return in 2016 set them up for an eventual World Series victory down the road. They ended up winning the NL East.

If the Cardinals can build a strong rotation this offseason and let their young position player loose, they could mirror the 2016 Washington Nationals. Young pitchers like Tink Hence could help lead the rotation with Sonny Gray next year. If Brendan Donovan, Lars Nootbaar, Masyn Winn, Ivan Herrera, and Nolan Gorman can take the next step, the Cardinals can return as kings of the central without many major moves.

Keep in mind, the Nationals also did a full reset on their coaching staff. They brought in veterans from the outside of the organization with a storied resume. That would make a big difference for the Cardinals.