Boom or bust decision 3: The St. Louis Cardinals are keeping their outfielders
Part of the decision to not pursue a trade with the Miami Marlins for more pitching was the flood of rumors that the Cardinals might have to ship one of their young outfielders (potentially Lars Nootbaar) to south Florida in order for a deal to be done. St. Louis watched as the Minnesota Twins landed Pablo Lopez at a high cost, and possibly wiped the sweat off their collective brows that they didn’t pay that fee for the pitcher’s services.
Nootbaar is a big part of the outfield plan for St. Louis in 2023, but a deeper dive into his numbers from last season show that July and August were the only two months where his batting average was over .200 and OPS was over .700. For two months, the 25-year-old outfielder was fantastic. The others, including September and October, were simply not up to that level.
St. Louis, of course, is counting on Nootbaar to be the July and August kind of player in 2023, one of the reasons he is still on the roster and penciled in as the Opening Day right fielder. On the left side of the outfield, Tyler O’Neill will be looking for a rebound season after slashing .228/.308/.392 in 383 plate appearances last season. Dylan Carlson, penciled in as the center fielder, came back to earth last season (.236/.316/.380 slash line in 488 plate appearances) after finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2021.
The Cardinals need those three outfielders to perform well this season, and they also expect to have a shot of production come in when heralded prospect Jordan Walker likely makes his MLB debut sometime this season. Those four names will be a key to St. Louis having an outfield that can help at the plate in support of Goldschmidt, Arenado, and others in the infield.
As a whole, the Cardinals stayed relatively quiet this offseason. Behind the plate, on the mound, and in the outfield will be the three biggest areas where the decision to stay pat will be evaluated the most by Cardinals fans starving for a return to the World Series.