With the uncertainty around baseball and when the season may start, the Cardinals have some tough decisions ahead for 2020. With the fifth starter spot and utility man jobs open for competition, projecting the Cardinals 26-Man Roster for 2020 is harder than it may seem. With some minor league transactions already in the books, the Cardinals look to build the perfect team for a potential opening day.
The Minor League Moves We Know So Far
The Cardinals have already made eight transactions that has thinned the competition up so far. Jake Woodford, Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, and Junior Fernandez are the four pitchers that were sent to Memphis to join the Cardinal’s Triple-A team. With them, four position players were sent as well, among them were Andrew Knizner, Edmundo Sosa, Justin Williams, and Austin Dean.
Yadier Molina is a lock to start behind the plate. He enters his 17th year and looks to play a few more after this one as well. This extended break will only help Yadi’s body recover and help it not break down. Paul Goldschmidt will be the starter at first, and Kolten Wong will be starting at second. Wong, coming off his first gold glove, will look to continue his reign as one of the best defensive 2nd baseman in the league. Paul Dejong will start at shortstop again and he will look to repeat his 2019 success where he hit 30 home runs. Third base is a little more tricky to predict the starter, as Matt Carpenter and Tommy Edman are both options. Edman is the better, more consistent option, but the Cardinals will probably look to give Carpenter one more shot to lock down 3rd base.
In the outfield the Cardinals have two starting spots that are more than likely locked in. Dexter Fowler will start in right field while Harrison Bader will start in center. Left field remains a mystery between Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, and Lane Thomas. I believe the Cardinals will start O’Neill in left to begin the season.
With the eight starters mentioned above that leaves room for five bench players. Behind the plate the Cardinals will continue to have Matt Wieters back up Molina. Wieters was a cheap, late additon to the team last year who helped ignite the offense when Molina was resting. In the infield the Cardinals could go many different directions. Rangel Ravelo looks like a sure bet to be Goldschmidt’s backup at first. The two utility roles will likely be filled by Brad Miller and Tommy Edman. That leaves one spot open for an outfield spot off the bench. That spot goes to either Lane Thomas or Dylan Carlson. I predict the Cardinals keep Carlson on the roster and slowly work him into the starting lineup!
The Starting Rotation
The starting rotation is all but set. The Cardinals will roll with Jack Flaherty as their ace! Flaherty, who finished 4th in the NL Cy Young last year, will be the future of this team for many years. Dakota Hudson, Adam Wainwright, and Miles Mikolas will definitely be the middle of the rotation guys this year. Mikolas would not have been ready for opening day due to an injury, but this time off gives him extra time to rest and recover. The 5th starter spot is more of a mystery. Kwang-Hyun Kim and Carlos Martinez are the options to fill the back end of the rotation. The Cardinals should have Kim be the 5th starter, while keeping Martinez in the bullpen.
Giovanny Gallegos and Carlos Martinez are sure locks to anchor the back end of the bullpen. Ryan Helsley, Tyler Webb, and Andrew Miller all look like locks as well to keep the bullpen strong all season long. If the Cardinals decide to go 13 pitchers, which I think they will, that leaves three spots open. John Brebbia will make this team as he has always been solid for the Cardinals out of the bullpen. John Gant also seems like a lock because of his ability to be a long reliever. That leaves one spot for a few players. Daniel Ponce de Leon, Austin Gomber, and Genesis Cabrera are the last options. With Cabrera already heading back to Memphis I believe they will choose Austin Gomber and his filthy stuff to round out the bullpen.
The Cardinals have tons of time to decide on what they want to do with their 26-man roster. Hopefully their decisions will be made earlier rather than later as we all want baseball back! Those are my predictions for the Cardinals 26-man roster for 2020!
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