The St. Louis Cardinals have accomplished most of their postseason to-do list. But it feels like more needs to happen before Spring Training.
John Mozeliak, Cardinals president of baseball operations, had a specific set of needs he wanted to accomplish this offseason. He wanted to make sure Gold Glove, All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado wouldn't opt out and leave the Cardinals. Mozeliak wanted to make sure Adam Wainwright came back to the Cardinals to have a proper send-off season before retirement. And third, he wanted to get the best candidate to replace legendary catcher Yadier Molina. Getting a designated hitter, bench help, and more pitching would be nice, but not essential.
Mozeliak traveled to Southern California to meet with Arenado to talk one-on-one about staying with the Cardinals. Arenado enjoys playing in St. Louis in front of the fans, with good friends like Paul Goldschmidt and Lars Nootbaar. Most importantly, he likes playing for a winning organization. This was the first season in which Arenado played for a club that won their division. He enjoyed that and wants to go deeper into the postseason. Arenado announced he wouldn't use his opt-out clause and would stay with the Cardinals, to the relief of many fans.
Getting Wainwright to sign a one-year deal to finish his Cardinal career seemed like an obvious move. We knew after close to 20 years with the organization and the recent retirement of Molina, and he would soon follow. Wainwright didn't like how the 2022 season played out for him and wants to end things on his terms. That's obviously respectable and exactly what fans want from Wainwright. While seeing his last season will be sad, he must do so in a Cardinals jersey.
Getting that replacement for Molina proved to be a big, time-consuming move for the team. Rumors of trades and free agent signings swirled, but the move the Cardinals ultimately made was set in motion the weekend the Cardinals and Cubs played at Busch Stadium, where Albert Pujols hit his 695th home run.
At that game, Willson Contreras first thought about what it would be like to wear a Cardinals uniform and take over as catcher after Molina retired at the end of the season after 19 seasons with the team. While it was reported that Contreras had consulted with former teammate Jose Quintana about his experience with the organization, he was also getting communications from Molina and was visited at his home by Mozeliak and Cardinals manager Oli Marmol.
During his introductory press conference, Contreras said all of the right things to endear himself to the Cardinals. He paid respects to the tradition, Molina, and the legacy he leaves behind. He also wants to follow in Molina's footsteps and be his own man. That's great to hear, and it's easy to want to see him succeed.
We know Mozeliak got the team's main concerns addressed. But even with the enormous talent this team has, it is obvious more moves will be needed if they want to go deeper into the postseason.