Cards could use OF depth to address needs

St. Louis has 7 outfielders on 40-man roster, plus 4 who could be ready for bigs in 2018

November 16th, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- Outside attention may be focused on the potential additions the Cardinals are pursuing, but the organization is also weighing what subtractions will be necessary to clear a cluttered roster.

Nowhere is that more necessary than within the outfield, which is teeming with ready players and not enough available spots. General manager Michael Girsch acknowledged this week that "it's highly likely that we move an outfielder." It may not be just one, either.

Hot Stove Tracker

"I think at some point we have to understand playing time [and] usage," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak added. "We have a lot of guys who are knocking on the Major League door. Where do you place them? If you want to create a true opportunity, you have to be open to that."

But with surplus also comes opportunity. The Cards hope to leverage their outfield depth to address other areas of need. They've spent the early days of the Hot Stove season assessing the interest other clubs have in their outfielders, and from there, they'll try to find a match.

With that in mind, here is a snapshot of that outfield depth. Included below are the seven outfielders already on the 40-man roster, as well as another four who could be Major League-ready in 2018:

: Bader made his debut last season and ranks fifth on the Cardinals' Top 30 prospects list, according to Whether it's in St. Louis or elsewhere, Bader will be valued for his above-average speed and ability to play all three outfield spots.

: Fowler has four years remaining on the $82.5 million contract he signed last December, and his no-trade clause means the Cards can't deal him without consent. They don't plan to dangle his name in trade talks, but they are seriously considering moving Fowler to a corner spot next year.

: As a first-time arbitration-eligible player, Grichuk will see his first substantial bump in salary this offseason. Though his power and average exit velocity continue to enamor talent evaluators, Grichuk has yet to show the consistency needed to be an everyday outfielder. The chances are strong that the organization moves on from him this winter.

: The Cardinals are likely to hold onto Martinez given his versatility and the fact that he'll be making around the Major League minimum next season. He's projected to open 2018 as a backup first baseman/outfielder again.

Tommy Pham: On the heels of a breakout season, Pham should enter 2018 earmarked for a starting outfield spot -- possibly in center field. He would have significant value in the trade market, but the Cards view him as a critical piece in their offense for next season.

: When Piscotty signed a six-year, $33.5 million contract last April, it was with the expectation that he'd be a long-term fixture in the Cardinals' outfield. Now, nothing seems certain. If the Cards land a power-hitting right fielder this offseason, they may try to flip Piscotty in another deal. The biggest unknown is how much a down 2017 has affected his value on the trade market.

: Ranked as the Cardinals' No. 6 prospect, Sierra rose to the Majors quicker than anyone expected. His time there exposed room for growth, which is why he's expected to open next season in the Minors. But the Cards love Sierra's unique skill set and aren't eager to deal him.

Jose Adolis Garcia: After signing Garcia last February, the Cardinals thought the 24-year-old Cuban defector might make it to the Majors before the end of the year. But that was before so many other outfielders had breakthrough seasons. Now, it's much more challenging to determine how Garcia will fit in the near future.

: The Cards swapped starter for O'Neill last July and had him finish the year with Triple-A Memphis. O'Neill's power potential is intriguing and something the Cardinals lack throughout their system. That's why they are expected to add the fourth-ranked prospect to the 40-man roster next week.

Randy Arozarena: Arozarena, 22, has played only 51 games above the Class A Advanced level, but his rise may be accelerating. He has been a standout performer in the Arizona Fall League, and he, too, can play all three outfield positions.

Oscar Mercado: Mercado's AFL numbers don't match those of Arozarena, but the 22-year-old converted outfielder had a strong season as the starting center fielder for the Cardinals' Double-A affiliate. He's ready for a move to Triple-A if the Cards can create space for him there.