Breaking down the Cards' potential '22 roster

October 26th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals don’t feature a ton of blatant holes on their roster from 2021 into ’22, but they could still be in the market for some upgrades. Or, if they feel the flexibility to spend, might they be in play for a high-caliber shortstop? Or perhaps a starting pitcher?

Here is a breakdown of the key members of the 2021 Cardinals and how they might factor into next year's roster:

Catcher Yadier Molina (signed through 2022)
Molina, along with starter Adam Wainwright, was re-signed for one more year. It’s going to be Molina’s farewell tour, and most likely the same for his batterymate, with whom he’s bound to set the all-time record for pitcher-catcher starts together.

Catcher Andrew Knizner (pre-arbitration)
Knizner took a step forward in his play calling and defensive work this season. His future is a little murky, though, with No. 7 prospect Ivan Herrera lauded as the heir apparent to Molina.

Catcher Ali Sánchez (pre-arbitration)
Acquired last offseason from the Mets, Sánchez is a defense-first backstop who spent most of the year at Triple-A Memphis.

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt (signed through 2024)
Goldschmidt is coming off a sensational season in which he rediscovered his power stroke, and he's bound to receive MVP votes on top of being a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award.

Second baseman Tommy Edman (pre-arbitration)
Finally pinned to one position instead of a super-utility role, Edman had an up-and-down season but ended up as the Cardinals’ first 30-base stealer since Edgar Rentería in 2003.

Shortstop Edmundo Sosa (pre-arbitration)
Sosa got his first taste of regular playing time this year and flourished. He provided a spark with his bat (hitting for a respectable average), his defense (sometimes flashy, though at times risky) and his demeanor (always flashing a smile).

Shortstop Paul DeJong (signed through 2023; team options for '24, ’25)
No one on the Cards’ roster may have a more uncertain offseason than DeJong. As his offensive struggles continued, he might be a candidate for a change of scenery. But the organization has remained firm on his potential, with an affordable contract under team control through 2025.

Third baseman Nolan Arenado (signed through 2027; opt-out after ’22)
After publicly stating his desire to turn down his first opt-out this offseason and remain in St. Louis, Arenado will look to build upon his 34-homer, 105-RBI All-Star season -- particularly in the on-base department. A bit of uncertainty looms with another opt-out following the 2022 campaign.

Infielder Matt Carpenter (team option for 2022)
With a vesting option that will become a team option, Carpenter’s days with the organization appear numbered. The club is not expected to pick up his option, likely ending his memorable 11 years as a Cardinal.

Infielder/outfielder José Rondón (pre-arbitration)
Rondón was an impactful bat off the bench this season, but could be a non-tender candidate with a burgeoning class of position prospects nearing the Majors.

Infielder Max Moroff (pre-arbitration)
Moroff may be a non-tender candidate after he signed a Minor League deal on Dec. 15, 2020, and appeared in just six games before season-ending left shoulder surgery.

Outfielder Tyler O’Neill (first-year arbitration-eligible)
O’Neill could be in for a stellar payday in his first year of arbitration, coming off a 34-homer season while hitting for contact and getting on base at an impressive clip. He’s one of three stars in the Cards’ outfield.

Outfielder Harrison Bader (second-year arbitration-eligible)
A prime candidate for his first career Gold Glove Award, Bader also took a leap forward offensively this year, particularly against right-handers and right-handers throwing breaking balls, hitting a career-high 16 homers and 21 doubles. Health was his only limiting factor.

Outfielder Dylan Carlson (pre-arbitration)
Carlson was the Cardinals’ biggest hope for an NL Rookie of the Year Award, and while he’s not likely to take it home, he showed both the offensive and defensive potential that once made him a top prospect.

Outfielder Lars Nootbaar (pre-arbitration)
A fan favorite, Nootbaar took strides in his first showing of big league action, proving to be a stolen-base threat with a little pop from the left-handed-hitting side of the batter’s box.

Outfielder Justin Williams (pre-arbitration)
Williams had high hopes out of Spring Training with his prodigious pop, making the Opening Day roster, but he struggled, got injured and couldn’t find his footing after.

Outfielder Austin Dean (pre-arbitration)
Dean, like Williams, made the Opening Day roster and can provide some insurance for the 2022 roster while likely remaining in the Minors, if not cut loose.

Right-hander Adam Wainwright (signed through 2022)
Wainwright, bound to receive some down-ballot NL Cy Young votes, will return for one more go with Yadier Molina. The 40-year-old hasn’t committed to 2022 being his final season, but acknowledged it likely will be.

Right-hander Jack Flaherty (second-year arbitration-eligible)
Flaherty’s offseason will be centered around health, coming off an oblique tear and right shoulder injury that derailed his 2021 campaign. His arbitration case will be interesting to watch, given his wonky counting stats over the past two seasons.

Right-hander Miles Mikolas (signed through 2023)
Mikolas missed a large majority of the 2021 season with a forearm and shoulder injury, but he proved capable down the stretch to help the club make the postseason. He’ll look to keep the momentum up heading into the third year of his four-year extension.

Right-hander Dakota Hudson (first-year arbitration-eligible)
The most impressive story down the stretch, Hudson returned from Tommy John surgery after less than a year. He’ll be a pivotal member of the rotation in 2022.

Left-hander Jon Lester (free agent)
Set to be 38 years old on Opening Day 2022, Lester has left open the possibility of retirement this offseason. If he decides on one more season, St. Louis may be interested in returning the lefty to their rotation.

Left-hander J.A. Happ (free agent)
Happ turned his season around after arriving in St. Louis at the Trade Deadline. Unlike Lester, he’s firm in wanting to play in 2022, and can provide depth for either the Cardinals or whoever comes calling.

Right-hander Jake Woodford (pre-arbitration)
Woodford will be a candidate to crack the final spots of the 2022 rotation after performing admirably down the stretch in September. He was shuttled between the Majors and Minors in a long-relief role but found his footing as a starter.

Right-hander Carlos Martínez (team option for 2022, ’23)
Martínez’s days as a Cardinal appear limited, with a team option for 2022 that the club is not expected to pick up. If so, it’ll end his nine-year stay with the organization, which included two All-Star appearances.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc (free agent)
LeBlanc was shut down this season with a left elbow injury that ended his season in mid-August. He was a steadying force for the rotation when signed in June and could be a candidate to return, though likely on a Minor League deal.

Right-hander Johan Oviedo (pre-arbitration)
Oviedo showed flashes of brilliance but often got in his own way in his first prolonged taste of the Majors. He could compete for one of the last rotation spots, as long as the club doesn't think he needs more time in the Minors.

Right-hander Giovanny Gallegos (pre-arbitration)
Gallegos is entering his final season before arbitration, primed to be the club’s closer after being elevated to that role in the final month of the '22 campaign.

Right-hander Alex Reyes (second-year arbitration-eligible)
Reyes will likely be given a shot in the rotation this Spring Training. He’s coming off a roller-coaster of a year -- an All-Star performance for a sensational first half before some deep late-season struggles.

Right-hander Ryan Helsley (pre-arbitration)
Health will be of the utmost importance for Helsley this offseason, coming off a right elbow stress reaction and arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He was a magician at stranding runners and stands to reclaim that high-leverage role in 2022.

Left-hander Génesis Cabrera (pre-arbitration)
Cabrera was sensational at times and shaky in other moments, battling a persistent nail issue. His role is expected to simply elevate next season.

Right-hander Jordan Hicks (second-year arbitration-eligible)
Hicks, looking to find some consistency of health in the Arizona Fall League, is coming off a disappointing season that saw him appear in just 10 games, suffering a right elbow injury in his first action returning from Tommy John. When healthy, he’s bound for a high-leverage role.

Right-hander Luis García (free agent)
García leaned into his two-seamer when he arrived in St. Louis, and it paid off in spades. With a fastball that can flash up to 100 mph, he’s a prime candidate to return to the Cards’ bullpen, should he not be scooped up by an opposing club.

Left-hander T.J. McFarland (free agent)
McFarland was a ground-ball and double-play savant, coming into jams and often escaping unscathed. He could return to St. Louis, or at the very least he has likely earned himself a big league deal with some club.

Right-hander Kodi Whitley (pre-arbitration)
Whitley took a massive step forward in the final month of the season as he returned from a back spasm issue. He figures to have earned a higher-leverage look for 2022.

Left-hander Andrew Miller (free agent)
Miller is coming off a wonky season that saw him pitch rather infrequently around a pair of foot blister issues. It’s likely the end of his three-year Cardinals tenure, as he's set to turn 37 during the 2022 season.

Left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim (free agent)
It appears to be the end of the road for Kim, who battled elbow and back injuries this season en route to being yanked from the rotation. He profiles to be a depth arm for a team looking for a lefty.

Right-hander Junior Fernández (pre-arbitration)
Fernández is recovering from a right lat injury and is expected to be in play for some of the final bullpen spots next season.