Cardinals finalize roster for Opening Day

March 26th, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Following the conclusion of the Cardinals’ exhibition game in Memphis on Monday, the club officially set its 25-man roster ahead of Thursday’s season opener in Milwaukee. It features four players new to the organization and seven who are on a big league Opening Day roster for the first time.

Six weeks after kicking off Spring Training in Jupiter, Fla., with 64 players in Major League camp, the Cardinals emerged with these as their final 25:

Catchers (2): ,

Molina will tie Lou Brock’s franchise record when he starts on Opening Day for the 15th consecutive season. Molina showed no lingering issues from offseason knee surgery and was able to accrue plenty of Grapefruit League at-bats despite getting a late start. Wieters didn’t play early in the spring schedule either, but he was still able to beat out Francisco Pena for the second catching spot. Wieters joined the Cardinals on a Minor League deal on Feb. 27.

First baseman (1):

Goldschmidt packed a lot into the last six weeks. He began camp by introducing himself to new teammates and staff before ending it being introduced as the next long-term anchor for the organization. On the penultimate day of Spring Training, the Cardinals held a press conference to announce their new long-term extension with the perennial All-Star. Goldschmidt will open the season batting second and should improve the infield defense.

Second baseman (1):

Wong will seek to build off a sensational 2018 second half in which he slashed .317/.384/.439. As long as Wong provides sufficient production out of the seventh spot in the lineup, he’s not likely to fall into a platoon situation this year. His biggest impact, of course, will continue to be on the defensive end, as Wong enters another year as a legitimate Gold Glove Award candidate.

Third baseman (1):

Though back tightness limited Carpenter to one at-bat over the Cardinals’ final nine Grapefruit League games, he’ll be ready to take the team’s first at-bat of the regular season. The addition of Goldschmidt nudged Carpenter back over to third base, and revised throwing mechanics should help him better handle the stress of that position this season. Carpenter will remain in Florida to stockpile at-bats in a Minor League setting before joining the club in Milwaukee.

Shortstop (1):

DeJong would like to combine the offensive success he had during his rookie season with the defensive strengths he showed as a sophomore. Manager Mike Shildt will give DeJong the first opportunity to settle into the lineup’s No. 3 spot, sandwiched between Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna. In an effort to improve in the field, DeJong was intentional in working on his defensive positioning this spring.

Utility men (2): ,

One of these spots was expected to go to Jedd Gyorko, but the veteran infielder will begin the year on the 10-day injured list. Gyorko, who sustained a right calf injury on March 3, will stay in Florida and catch up on his work in a Minor League setting, possibly positioning him to rejoin the Cardinals during the team’s opening homestand. Munoz and Robinson have the defensive flexibility to play both in the infield and outfield. Robinson’s inclusion on the roster also gives the Cardinals a left-handed bat off the bench.

The Cardinals exit Spring Training with fewer outfield questions than they opened with -- and that’s a good thing. Ozuna had a strong offensive finish and showcased much improved outfield arm strength. Fowler looked refreshed after healing from foot surgery. Martinez inked a two-year extension during the team’s spring stay, and O’Neill muscled his way onto the roster by crushing a team-high five home runs.

Carlos Martinez fell out of this mix after shoulder weakness stalled his spring program just days into camp. That created an opening for one of five other candidates, and Hudson seized it while closing out Grapefruit League play with a run of 12 consecutive scoreless innings. During camp, Mikolas was announced as the Opening Day starter, and Flaherty was selected to start his first home opener.

The surprise here is Reyes, who proved his health to pitch his way onto his first Opening Day roster. Reyes, Hicks and Miller will anchor the back end of the bullpen, with all three getting consideration in save situations. Miller is the only lefty in the group, though the Cards aren’t concerned by the imbalance. Mayers and Gant are out of Minor League options, which will reduce the flexibility the Cards could have in shuttling pitchers back and forth to the Minors.