Which Cardinals are at risk of losing their roster spots when injured players return?

As the Cardinals get more reinforcements off the injured list, it will impact who they decide to keep on their 26-man roster.
Baltimore Orioles v St. Louis Cardinals
Baltimore Orioles v St. Louis Cardinals / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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Bonus: If the Cardinals bring back Jordan Walker this season, we may see the end of Matt Carpenter or Brandon Crawford's time on the roster

Jordan Walker is not injured, but if the Cardinals do decide to tap back into him at some point this year, it makes roster construction very interesting and creates a really weird situation for their lineup.

First, let's talk about Walker, who in his 170 at-bats for Memphis this year is posting a .271/.324/.412 slash line with 3 home runs and 15 RBI. While he seems to be tapping into that power stroke more as of late, the Cardinals are going to continue to be patient with him to make sure when they call him up this next time, they never have to look back.

There's a real chance Walker won't come back to St. Louis in 2024, but if I had to bet, we will see him at some point before the season is over. Walker is just so talented as a player and I believe he'll continue to figure things out, but again, there is no need to rush that.

Should Walker get the call-up AND the roster is healthy, I believe we'd actually see a move with one of Matt Carpenter or Brandon Crawford, with the former being the more likely candidate in my opinion.

One thing that could change that is if the Cardinals become more comfortable with Nootbaar playing center field, and then we could see whichever of Carlson or Siani is still on the roster sent down to make space for Walker. But if they do not change their stance on that, then it has to be one of Carpenter or Crawford.

As much of a club legend Carpenter is, his spot makes the most sense of the two to replace, as Alec Burleson really plays the role that Carpenter would want to fill, while there really is not a backup shortstop option for St. Louis other than Crawford. The Cardinals could DFA Crawford instead, but they would have to be okay with Edman playing some shortstop then.

If Walker returns, it will be as a mostly everyday guy, and when the Cardinals lineup is fully healthy, I'd expect it to look something like this:

SS Masyn Winn
DH Brendan Donovan
C Willson Contreras
LF Lars Nootbaar
1B Paul Goldschmidt/Alec Burleson
2B Nolan Gorman
3B Nolan Arenado
RF Jordan Walker
CF Tommy Edman

Bench: Burleson/Goldschmidt, Crawford, Siani, and Herrera

Obviously that lineup could be mixed and matched in a number of ways depending on how players are hitting but it would obviously be a massive improvement over what they have been getting most of this season, which is a big reason why optimism remains high internally regarding the Cardinals' offense.

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