The St. Louis Cardinals are a franchise that looked the part of a legitimate playoff contender last season with a deep roster of veterans. The Milwaukee Brewers were on track to win the NL Central, but the Cardinals swooped in and reached the NL Wildcard race before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Even with that loss, the future is bright for the Redbirds as they enter 2023 MLB free agency.

Paul Goldschmidt claimed the 2022 NL MVP and Nolan Arenado is still one of the best players in the whole league. That foundation is remarkable for St. Louis along with fantastic young guns like Dylan Carlson, Lars Nootbaar, and Brendan Donovan. As they intend to fill in numerous of their weaknesses that were exposed against the Phillies, these are still some names they must avoid in the next few months.

Willson Contreras

The catcher position has not been a problem for the Cardinals for many years because the consistency of Yadier Molina has been phenomenal. However, he has decided to hang up his cleats and call it a career already, so the Cardinals may prioritize acquiring a catcher. Willson Contreras is arguably the best name on the market, but they must not pay him the substantial amount of money he will likely demand.

As a popular name in a scarce position, Willson Contreras’ camp will feel they have the power to demand at least $20 million annually as his starting salary. St. Louis does need his presence and production, but it is worth it to pay him that amount, especially if they request a long-term contract. The plausible approach the Cardinals’ front office can take is acquiring a catcher from a trade like Danny Jansen.

Mitch Haniger

The infield of the Cardinals is more than set for the next couple of years, but their corner outfielders must still be enhanced if they want to become a serious contender in the National League. Tyler O’Neil and Lars Nootbaar are excellent outfielders, but that is not enough to contend with the likes of Ronald Acuña Jr. or Mookie Betts.

The problem with adding Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger is his durability and consistent production. In some seasons wherein he can maintain his injuries, Mitch Haniger has been tremendous for the Mariners, and those numbers would be the answer to the major problems of the Cardinals. What the front office can do is give him what they feel he is worth but not go over the top and meet his demands because of the injury concerns.

Noah Syndergaard

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Starting pitching is another cause for concern for St. Louis because they do not have an ace like Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander. These two legendary pitchers are available in the market, but it does not seem like they are considering the Cardinals as a new home. The next category of starting pitchers includes Phillies starter Noah Syndergaard.

Before Tommy John Surgery, Syndergaard was an excellent ace for the New York Mets, but his consistency has been a problem for the Phillies. His ERA jumped to 3.94 this season which is a massive raise compared to his numbers in 2016 and 2017. His name still holds a ton of value to many organizations but is a risky signing that may cause the Cardinals a ton of millions on their payroll.

Noah Syndergaard was pulled early in both of his postseasons starts for the Phillies, so this is an indication that acquiring a former ace is not the direction they should focus on.