6 surprising St. Louis Cardinals who could return next season

The 2024 edition of the St. Louis Cardinals could have some unexpected returns. Here are the names who could be back.

Tyler O'Neill, St. Louis Cardinals
Tyler O'Neill, St. Louis Cardinals / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Dakota Hudson could be a surprise return to the Cardinals

It was actually a surprise to see Hudson get called up to St. Louis after spending much of the season in Memphis. But since his call-up, he has been so impressive.

In 15 games, Hudson is 6-2 on the season. He's pitched 65.1 innings with an ERA of 5.10. He's got 37 strikeouts. He seems to have a more confident mindset and credits new pitching coach Dusty Blake with helping him understand analytics.

Next season will be crucial for Hudson's future as it's his final season of arbitration eligibility as he'll be a free agent in 2025.

Dylan Carlson could be a surprise return to the Cardinals

Carlson spent the last several weeks attempting to heal and rehab in preparation for returning to finish out the 2023 season. Rather that setting a return date, the Cardinals announced Carlson is having season-ending arthroscopic ankle surgery.

Lynn Worthy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported Carlson's surgery, expected to take place next week in Charlotte, will remove bone spurs in his ankle, enabling him to be ready for the start of the 2024 season. Worthy reported Carlson should expect an eight-to-12-week recovery period before he gets into an offseason training program.

Carlson was mentioned in many trade deals involving the Cardinals, but the team did not move him. Carlson's first season of arbitration eligibility will be this offseason. He will be a free agent in 2027.

Hopefully, Carlson and the Cardinals can avoid arbitration, allowing him to have some security while going through his rehab process to get ready for a productive 2024 season in which he can finally show off his talent.