Offseason checklist: Cards' needs & moves

February 13th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- Well, that offseason took a turn.

The Cardinals, essentially idle into the last week of January without a Major League deal on their resume, bookended the last weekend of the month by re-signing right-hander and then making the biggest splash of the winter, acquiring superstar third baseman from the Rockies in exchange for five players.

Baseball's quietest team quickly shed that tag.

So with Spring Training looming, the Cardinals at the beginning of February look much different than they did on Jan. 1. Still, there are smaller holes to plug and skillful free agents left on the market. As president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said in announcing the Arenado trade, "You always have a chance to get better."

Here's where the Cards stand, where they might go next and a run-down of what they've done so far:


Utility player
With off to the Brewers, utility man figures to be the Cardinals' everyday second baseman. Edmundo Sosa would be an internal candidate to take over a backup utility role then, but the Cards could also use this spot to get a bat -- one that can hit for power or get on base as a plug-and-play option behind Paul Goldschmidt and Arenado.


With back in the fold, the Cardinals are set at catcher -- the same way they have been for the past 17 years. , 26, is considered ready for the Majors, and he’ll spend Spring Training working to show he can be the heir apparent. , 29, was signed to a Minor League deal in November, and he could compete for the backup role if the Cards decide they prefer Knizner in the Minors so he doesn't lag in reps in a backup role. Ali Sánchez could also be in the mix for backup reps behind the plate.

A big bat
Arenado filled the biggest hole the Cardinals had this season: a premium bat and a Gold Glove infielder back in the fold following the departure of Wong. Arenado will hit in tandem with Goldschmidt, providing the star first baseman with protection he sorely missed in 2020; Cards' cleanup hitters slashed just .198/.322/.380 last year. Granted, Arenado slashed just .253/.303/.434 in 2020, but he missed time with soreness in the A/C joint in his left shoulder, hampering him one season removed from a career year in '19. And granted, St. Louis could probably use one more power bat, likely in a utility or bench role.


Feb. 12: Acquired Ali Sánchez from Mets -- St. Louis added to its catching depth by acquiring the 24-year-old Sánchez in exchange for cash considerations. A native of Carora, Venezuela, Sánchez made his Major League debut in 2020, notching one hit in five games. He owns a .259/.317/.331 batting line across six Minor League seasons, while throwing out 46 percent of would-be base-stealers.

Feb. 10: Acquired Johan Quezada from Phillies -- The Cardinals added to their bullpen depth with Quezada, a hard-throwing 26-year-old who made his debut in 2020. With a fastball that sits at 97 mph, Quezada is 15-8 with 16 saves and a 4.05 ERA, striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings, across six Minor League seasons. He’ll have a chance to compete for one of the final bullpen spots in camp or serve as a next-man-up should injuries arise.

Feb. 8: Re-signed Yadier Molina for his 18th season -- The Cardinals will ride the same catcher in 2021 that they have for the past 17 years. Molina, back on a one-year deal worth $9 million (per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman), was courted by other contenders with catching needs, but he elected to return to the only organization he’s called home. He’ll work with a pitching staff that finished in the top 10 in ERA in 2020.

Feb. 4: Traded OF Dexter Fowler to Angels -- St. Louis sent the 34-year-old Fowler to Los Angeles for a player to be named or cash considerations. Fowler's departure clears some space with several young outfielders, including Dylan Carlson (the club's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline), waiting in the wings to prove themselves at the Major League level.

Feb. 1: Completed blockbuster trade for 3B Nolan Arenado -- St. Louis landed its white whale in Arenado, the NL's top third baseman it has been coveting for years now. In doing so, they sent left-hander Austin Gomber, who was expected to compete for a spot in the rotation, infield prospects Elehuris Montero (the Cards' No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline) and Mateo Gil (No. 22), and right-handers Tony Locey (No. 19) and Jake Sommers to the Rockies. St. Louis also received $51 million from Colorado to pay down Arenado's salary, a source told's Mark Feinsand, as well as a restructured deal for Arenado, which adds a year to the back end of his contract (now through 2027) with opt-outs after '21 and '22.

Jan. 29: Re-signed RHP Adam Wainwright for his 16th Cardinals season -- Despite being courted by several other teams -- serious contenders, he said -- Wainwright returned to the only big league club he's called home on a one-year deal that's worth $8 million after incentives. The reigning Roberto Clemente Award winner, Wainwright, 39, was the Cards' most dependable pitcher in 2020, throwing two shutouts and posting a 3.15 ERA. He'll anchor a mostly set rotation in 2021.

Dec. 18: Signed INF José Rondón to a Minor League deal with invite to Spring Training -- Rondón, 26, comes from the Orioles organization but did not play in the Majors in 2020. Across three years in the Majors, with the Padres, White Sox and Orioles, Rondón has hit .201/.260/.336 with nine home runs. This is another infield depth move for the Cardinals. They’re lacking in that area in the Minors and didn’t pick an infielder in the Rule 5 Draft, so these Minor League deals fill that need without taking space on the 40-man roster. Rondón’s name will be added to the mix with Edmundo Sosa and Max Moroff for a bench role in '21.

Dec. 15: Signed INF Max Moroff to a Minor League deal with invite to Spring Training -- Moroff, 27, is a career .183/.277/.319 hitter in 244 Major League plate appearances from 2016-19. A switch-hitter who spent last season in the Mets organization, Moroff has seen time with Pittsburgh and Cleveland and has primarily played second base and shortstop, along with some third base. He’s viewed as infield depth for the Cardinals, filling Max Schrock’s role after he was selected off waivers by the Cubs at the end of October. Moroff will likely compete with Edmundo Sosa for that versatile bench role in Spring Training.

Dec. 10: Selected LHP Garrett Williams in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 Draft -- After passing on the No. 19 pick in baseball’s annual Rule 5 Draft, the Cardinals made their only selection in the Minor League portion, taking Williams from the Angels’ Double-A roster. Williams was the player to be named in the Zack Cozart trade between the Angels and Giants last year. He is 18-24 with a 3.98 ERA and 304 strikeouts in 321 innings after being drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Oklahoma State. In the Rule 5 Draft, the Cardinals lost right-handers Jordan Brink (a Minor League Rule 5 pick last year) to the Rays and Ronnie Williams (a former second-round MLB Draft pick) to the Giants.

Dec. 2: Non-tendered reliever John Brebbia and infielder Rangel Ravelo -- At the deadline to tender players contracts for the upcoming season, the Cardinals chose not to tender Brebbia (arbitration eligible) and Ravelo (pre-arbitration) contracts while tendering contracts to their other arbitration-eligible players in Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, John Gant, Alex Reyes and Harrison Bader. Brebbia is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and his usage and role in 2021 was uncertain. Ravelo’s decision stemmed from a lack of playing time for the 28-year-old, and it opened an additional roster spot for further moves.

Nov. 19: Added catcher Ivan Herrera and righty Angel Rondón to the 40-man roster -- Herrera, the Cardinals’ No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and Rondón, the club’s No. 13 prospect, were added to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft protection deadline. Both figure to help the Cardinals in the near future.

Nov. 13: Signed catcher Tyler Heineman to a Minor League deal with invite to Spring Training -- Addressing the catching depth in their farm system, the Cardinals added Heineman ahead of 2021. The 29-year-old appeared in 15 games with the Giants last season and has hit .285 over eight years in the Minor Leagues.

Nov. 2: Declared nine players as Minor League free agents -- Right-handers Nabil Crismatt, Bryan Dobzanski, Derian Gonzalez and Kevin Herget; left-handers Rob Kaminsky and Ricardo Sánchez; catcher José Godoy; outfielder Andres Luna; and infielder Jose A. Martinez became free agents. Some – like Kaminsky, who has a history with the Cardinals and helped the team this year -- could come back on a Minor League deal in 2021.

Oct. 30: Lose Max Schrock off waivers to Cubs -- The Cardinals tried to pass the backup infielder, who was acquired from the A’s in the Stephen Piscotty trade in 2017, through waivers. But Chicago picked him up, clearing another spot on St. Louis’ roster.

Oct. 30: Outrighted Ricardo Sánchez and Nabil Crismatt -- The two right-handers cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Memphis, clearing two more spots on the 40-man roster.

Oct. 30: Reinstated Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, John Brebbia and Ricardo Sánchez from injured list -- Five players on the 60-day injured list were put back on the 40-man roster for the offseason, taking over the spots that the club's free agents (Molina, Wainwright, Brad Miller, Matt Wieters and Wong) opened when electing free agency.

Oct. 28: Declined Kolten Wong’s 2021 option -- The Cardinals did not exercise the $12.5 million option of their Gold Glove and homegrown second baseman, instead paying a buyout of $1 million and making him a free agent.