The St. Louis Cardinals’ potential roster purge this winter
As the decision of Kolten Wong and the free agency Yadier Molina proved, it is certain that the St. Louis Cardinals will face difficult decisions this winter. As the end of an era could come, no one on this list is truly “safe”.
When the St. Louis Cardinals announced they would turn down second base player Kolten Wong’s option for 2021 (an option I wrote about earlier), it signaled a few things. One of them was that this could mark the start of the Cardinals’ wage cut after a season of lost revenue. Another reason is that fan favorites are likely to be on the move.
The fan reaction to the Wong decision was decidedly negative. Wong has been the team’s second baseman regularly since 2014 and has a strong chance of winning his second consecutive Gold Glove Award this season.
If you think the reaction has been strong, wait for Yadier Molina to sign elsewhere. Yes, I think that is where things are going.
The Cardinals will be a completely different team in 2021 when they let Molina and Adam Wainwright leave. It’s hard to imagine someone else behind the plate and number 50 not wearing the elastic for the Redbirds. This off-season is likely to be a catalyst for change.
What does it all mean? Well, it means that with the exception of Jack Flaherty, Paul Goldschmidt, and probably Dylan Carlson, pretty much anyone on the list could potentially be deleted.
If the Cardinals are ready to run franchise icons Molina and / or Wainwright, and if they’re ready to allow elite defenseman Kolten Wong to test the free hand, it means almost no one on the roster is sacrosanct . If the Cardinals let any or all of these players run, it will mark the end of an era of St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
The team also lost infielder Max Schrock for renouncing the Chicago Cubs. The roster cleanup is in progress.
I have a feeling the St. Louis Cardinals will be a completely different ball club in 2021. While payroll is likely to go down, I have a feeling that the team will be active in the trading market and that the crowded free agent market could find bargains later in the off-season.
I also recently wrote about bringing back the coaching staff as a sign of complacency. After the Wong option was rejected, my mind changed. The Cardinals understand the need for change, perhaps out of necessity rather than want.
The Cardinals will likely try to keep much of the roster intact, but given the economic situation and the undeniable need to improve the offense, some important changes could come.
As the situation in Kolten Wong shows, they are ready to move away from the fan favorites. If they let Molina go, it will show that they are ready to turn the page of an era of Cardinal baseball.
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The 2021 St. Louis Cardinals will likely follow the blueprint of the Cardinals teams over the past decade. Probably a winning record and likely (if circumstances allow) 3 million tickets to sell. But as the very early off-season showed us, most of the players on this roster are not completely safe from the possible squad cleanup that is likely to happen in the next few months.