In 2023, he earned himself more playing time and more starts as the team's backup catcher. He had shown glimpses of his potential in 2022, but this year was an opportunity for him to prove himself.
And sure enough, Knizner has done just that. He's emerged as a legitimate threat at the plate, hitting for a higher average and more power, and he has clearly inherited a ton of knowledge from the recently retired Yadier Molina.
He remains the backup catcher for the Cardinals, but he has seen much more action this year than in years past. His ability to handle a pitching staff has improved quite noticeably, and he is becoming the catcher that the Cardinals expected him to be.
With that being said, there still may be some uncertainty about what the future might hold for him. The reason for this is that for the next four years, the Cardinals will have Willson Contreras behind the plate. He'll likely be the starting catcher for the vast majority of the time.
In addition to Contreras, the Cardinals also have Ivan Herrera waiting in the wings and Pedro Pages not too far behind him. There is plenty of depth at the catcher position, even in the aftermath of Molina's retirement.
But as we turn our focus to 2024, Knizner is going to be an interesting player to follow. We don't know what the future holds for him in St. Louis.
Could he be traded? Perhaps. The Cardinals need pitching and have the pieces to trade for it. Given his strong season, he could be a player that teams may have an interest in.
However, if the Cardinals are going to go for pitching on the trade front, they might be better-served trading Herrera. Herrera is a great defender but is blocked due to Contreras and Knizner. And with Knizner having such a solid season and finally coming into his own, the Cardinals may want to see more of him as they assess the catching situation for the next few years.
Keep in mind that when Contreras was shifted out of the starting catcher role, it was Knizner who drew the bulk of the starts behind the plate, while Tres Barrera was used as the backup catcher. And Knizner did a pretty good job.
Knizner has more experience than Herrera and knows the pitching staff very well, so there's merit to holding onto him. And with his bat finally coming around, the Cardinals now know that they have a little extra offensive firepower on the bench.
He could also draw starts when Contreras serves as the designated hitter, which I could see happening next year, just as it did this year. That way, you can give Knizner ample playing time while also keeping Contreras' bat in the lineup.
It certainly can't hurt to keep Knizner around, as he knows the pitching staff well and finally is becoming the player that the Cardinals hoped he would. And we can only hope that this continues in 2024 as the Cards look to bounce back into postseason contention after a disappointing 2023.
I would guess that if the Cardinals are going to trade a catcher, Herrera would be the one to get shopped instead of Knizner. We'll see what happens, but Knizner brings a ton of value to this team both offensively and defensively.