5 Cardinals on Opening Day roster who won’t be on the roster next season

These five St. Louis Cardinals players are on the Opening Day roster this season but won't be back in 2025.

Mar 5, 2024; Jupiter, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) circles
Mar 5, 2024; Jupiter, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) circles / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

To say the 2024 season is a big one for the St. Louis Cardinals would be an understatement. This team has tons to prove after an extremely disappointing 2023 campaign.

The Cardinals entered last season as presumptive NL Central favorites, but finished at the bottom of the division, going 71-91. Injuries played a role, but the team simply was not built to win thanks in large part to their starting pitching.

For the Cardinals to get back to the postseason in 2024, a lot will have to go right. Unfortunately, things have already gotten off to a bit of a rough start with several players, including Sonny Gray, their big-ticket free agent signing, beginning the year on the IL.

The Cardinals Opening Day roster looked a bit different than anticipated as a result of those injuries. When it comes to Opening Day for the 2025 season, it might look even weirder with these five players who made this year's team departing.

Matt Carpenter won't be back with the Cardinals next season

The Cardinals made the very curious choice to bring former fan favorite Matt Carpenter back to St. Louis on a cheap one-year deal. There's almost never anything wrong with signing a player to a cheap deal with no future commitment, but why exactly was this a move that had to be made?

Back in his heyday, Carpenter was a legitimate star. He made two All-Star appearances as a Cardinal and also won a Silver Slugger. He'll always be remembered by Cardinals fans, but it was abundantly clear last season that he had just reached the end of the line.

In fact, Carpenter has not put together a strong season with the exception of a 47-game hot streak with the Yankees in 2022 since the 2018 campaign. From 2019-2023 he had just a 97 OPS+ making him a below-average hitter, and that's with the 216 OPS+ he had with the Yankees. Last season he signed with the Padres expecting to be their DH against right-handed pitching but he struggled from the jump and posted an OPS+ of 81.

He might get some pinch-hitting appearances or spot starts at DH here and there, but Carpenter likely won't play much for the Cardinals this season. Assuming he doesn't hit, this might be his last year not only with the Cardinals but in MLB.

Brandon Crawford won't be back with the Cardinals next season

Speaking of curious signings, the Cardinals signed Brandon Crawford, another veteran who appeared to be nearing the end of his career to a cheap one-year deal. Again, not much wrong with deals like that, but what purpose does Crawford bring?

The Cardinals have Masyn Winn, their No. 1 prospect entering the year in the majors starting at shortstop. He's their everyday shortstop for now and for the future, and he doesn't play anywhere else on the diamond. Another shortstop who doesn't really play anywhere else on the diamond is Brandon Crawford.

Crawford was one of the elite two-way shortstops in his prime. He's a three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, and has even taken home a Silver Slugger. He played a key role in San Francisco's World Series wins in both 2012 and 2014. Unfortunately, that was a decade ago, and he's not the same player now as he was then.

Last season with the Giants Crawford slashed .194/.273/.314 with seven home runs and 38 RBI in 93 games. He was still good defensively, but his bat made him unstartable for a contending team. There's a reason the Giants let him go after he spent 13 years in San Francisco and replaced him with the light-hitting Nick Ahmed.

Like Carpenter, he'll see spoadtic playing time for this season and almost certainly won't be back in 2025.

Kyle Gibson won't be back with the Cardinals next season

The Cardinals had to overhaul their rotation after their starters ranked 26th out of the 30 teams with a 5.08 ERA per FanGraphs. Bringing in free agents had to be done, but the players they brought in come with serious questions.

One free agent starter they signed was Kyle Gibson who inked a one-year deal worth $12 million. They did well to not commit multiple years, but the choice is an interesting one.

Gibson threw 192 innings last season for the Orioles, but had a 4.73 ERA and led the league with 198 hits allowed. Eating innings is always good, but how valuable is that if they're not quality? The Cardinals have a formidable offense, but will it be enough to overcome Gibson allowing four or five runs in six innings?

Gibson is 36 years old and is not a player St. Louis should have much interest in keeping past this season, especially with prospects like Tink Hence and Tekoah Roby nearing their MLB debuts.

Lance Lynn won't be back with the Cardinals next season

The Cardinals showed they had a certain type with their bench by adding Carpenter and Crawford, and showed they have a type with starting pitchers as well by adding Gibson and Lance Lynn.

The Lynn signing in particular is a head-scratcher. Last season, the right-hander posted a 5.73 ERA in 32 starts and 183.2 innings of work. That ERA was so bad mainly because he allowed a MLB-leading 44 home runs. He then allowed four more in his lone postseason start with all four coming consecutively.

He's another guy who can eat innings, as shown by his 183.2 innings last season, but again, how valuable is that when he's allowing tons of runs? Can't I just run up there and allow a bunch of runs but still throw six innings? Eventually the opposition will get tired and let me get outs, right?

The Cardinals gave Lynn a one-year deal hoping that he'll eat valuable innings for them. If last season is any indication, he'll have a difficult time doing so. The Cardinals should try and get younger next season, and that means letting the 36-year-old sign elsewhere if he continues to pitch.

Paul Goldschmidt won't be back with the Cardinals next season

Here's the big one. Of anyone on this list, Paul Goldschmidt has by far the best chance of staying in a Cardinals uniform. There's a very high probability that the Cardinals will want him to stay, and for good reason. He's still an elite player. However, there's still a chance he won't be back next season.

With the Cardinals out of postseason contention, Goldschmidt's name circulated in trade rumors. He wasn't dealt, but it's notable that the Cardinals at the very least didn't shut calls down immediately.

Goldschmidt is 36 years old and will be a free agent after this season. That's what this comes down to. He's still an incredibly productive hitter, but his .810 OPS last season was the lowest mark of his career since his rookie season in which he appeared in just 48 games back in 2011.

Do the Cardinals want to give him a multi-year deal to keep him around through his late 30s? That doesn't seem like the best idea ever. Additionally, if the Cardinals are out of contention by the deadline, they can still get a nice asset or two for him. There are more reasons to deal him than to keep him around at this point if you're St. Louis.