Utilityman José Rondón was the lone player non-tendered, making him a free agent, as the Cardinals’ 40-man roster was slimmed to 36.
Such was the expectation for the Cardinals this offseason, who turn their focus to likely more modest roster improvements following the signing of left-hander Steven Matz on Monday. Their roster -- especially on the position player side -- is mostly set from 2021, returning a record five Gold Glovers from the starting lineup, though president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said on Monday that the club has offers out to potential free agents. His focus is mostly honed in on bolstering the relief corps, he said.
Rondón, though, saw his place in the roster picture squeezed out by burgeoning talent on the farm. Juan Yepez stands to serve as a corner outfielder/backup first baseman to Paul Goldschmidt (or a designated hitter should the next Collective Bargaining Agreement introduce it to the National League). No. 17 prospect Brendan Donovan, who had his contract selected to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft, has also surged up the ranks and provides coverage to the same positions Rondón does while owning one distinct advantage: a left-handed bat that’s sorely needed.
The 27-year-old Rondón, who was signed to a Minor League deal before the 2021 season, could also return to the organization on a similar deal should he not find suitors elsewhere. He performed rather well in his bench role, learning the outfield on the fly, with three pinch-hit homers across 80 total at-bats, but the club gave the inside track to its homegrown talent.
Now the Cards’ focus turns to locking up the arbitration-eligible players to deals for 2022. Flaherty will be the most interesting case, given that he went to arbitration last year and was rewarded a $3.2 million salary through the process. But this time, he’s coming off a pair of lengthy injuries that saw him make just 15 starts before being relegated to a bullpen role by season’s end since he couldn't build up his innings.
Bader will also be interesting to watch, now having locked up his first Gold Glove; he made $2 million in 2021. Right-handers Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes are also in their second year of arbitration eligibility, while right-hander Dakota Hudson, outfielder Tyler O'Neill and closer Giovanny Gallegos are arbitration-eligible for the first time.