ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Cardinals dove into the free agent pitcher’s market in the early weeks of the offseason, but haven’t finalized any moves during the Winter Meetings, which are set to end Wednesday.
The Winter Meetings mark an annual occurrence in which lead executives from the Cardinals and other MLB teams meet to discuss business and potential trades. The meetings began Sunday and run through Wednesday in Nashville.
As of Wednesday morning, the Cardinals haven’t made any roster changes since the start of the meetings. It’s unclear whether anything is imminent as very few signings and trades among MLB teams have transpired over the last few days.
Despite this relatively quiet period, the meetings haven’t come short of anticipation and planning ahead for next year’s team.
The Cardinals entered the meetings with a large priority to upgrade the bullpen, according to MLB.com’s John Denton. St. Louis’ 4.47 bullpen ERA was third-worst in the National League last year. Exploring the market for an experienced arm, whether via trade or free agency, could help the team alleviate some strains for longer-tenured pieces like Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos. That said, based on reports from Cardinals beat writers at the winter meetings, no bullpen additions seem apparent yet.
Whatever comes next for the Cardinals will follow the addition of three new starting pitchers, Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. All three are former All-Stars that have shown the ability to eat innings, which in turn could help attract some bullpen pieces.
One of the bigger storylines to come out of the Winter Meetings is the future of the outfield. Cardinals lead executive John Mozeliak told reporters, including The Athletic’s Katie Woo, that the team envisions Lars Nootbaar, Jordan Walker, and Tommy Edman as the starting outfielders next year.
Mozeliak also mentioned via MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that the Cardinals would consider trade possibilities for Tyler O’Neill. Currently set for free agency next year, O’Neill is coming off a second consecutive injury-riddled season and was subject to some criticism from manager Oli Marmol last year.
Mozleiak didn’t quite offer any comments to that magnitude on Dylan Carlson, who may be the odd man out of lineups most often under next year’s outfield plan if he remains in St. Louis. It would be difficult to imagine a scenario where the Cardinals roster both him and Carlson in 2024 due to their current outfield logjam.
One other big discussion point from the winter meetings is the future of Oli Marmol as Cardinals manager. The 2024 season will be his last on a three-year deal he originally signed to manage St. Louis. After a 71-91 record last year, one of the team’s worst in decades, Marmol knows the expectations to bounce back will be high.
“If you’re good, they keep you,” Marmol reportedly told St. Louis Post-Dispatch Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold. The timing of these comments is certainly interesting with the Cardinals planning on a special advisor role next season for longtime catcher Yadier Molina, who also has long-term hopes to manage a MLB team.
Amid the Winter Meetings, the Cardinals learned they would hold the seventh overall pick in next year’s MLB draft, despite having the league’s fifth-worst record last season. It will be their highest draft selection since 1998, when they went fifth overall and selected outfielder J.D. Drew.