Which outstanding 2024 Cardinals deserve an extension?

5 players in arbitration or pre-arbitration have shown themselves worthy of a contract extension soon. Who should get one?
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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I'll start by saying this is one of my favorite cover photos that I've used in any article. Just look at how happy these two are!

Anyway, now for the important stuff. Let's talk about contract extensions.

An organization that extends a player who is in arbitration or pre-arbitration a contract is taking a bit of a gamble. The player is young; there isn't a large data sample to work with. However, if the player ends up performing above his skis, then the organization will have to pay the player a significant amount in arbitration and possibly lose that player to free agency after 6 years of service with the team if an extension isn't agreed upon. That's risky.

From a player's perspective, the exact opposite is true. Signing a contract extension allows him security, knowledge of where he'll play, for how long, and how much he'll make. If the player plays well, he'll likely surpass what he would otherwise be making through pre-arbitration and at least the early years of arbitration, but he'll make less than he would have through free agency.

It's a risky business, and the Cardinals have had some deals sour on them relatively quickly while others were absolute bargains. Tommy Edman's extension was the most recent one, and that hasn't started off strongly due to his injury.

While there are several players on the roster this year who fit the bill of a player in arbitration, only some have shown that they deserve an extension. Some players who would have made sense recently don't as of now. Jordan Walker is in Memphis and figuring out his swing, Lars Nootbaar has played well when healthy, but his health has been questionable, and Nolan Gorman is too streaky for my comfort.

That leaves Brendan Donovan, Masyn Winn, JoJo Romero, Alec Burleson, and Ryan Helsley as players who have had success this year and are in arbitration or pre-arbitration. Each of these players has outpaced his preseason projections this year and given John Mozeliak a reason to lock them up long-term. They're all reaching free agency naturally at different times, but both they and the team would benefit from signing an extension now.

Which of the 5 Cardinals who are playing well this year are deserving of a contract extension?