(Busch Stadium) Baseball people will always say it’s a good problem to have, but with the nearing return of Kolten Wong from the disabled list, the St. Louis Cardinals are again faced with some difficult roster decisions.
“I think it will be a difficult decision,” agreed Mike Shildt. “You’re talking about everybody on this roster contributing on both sides of the ball. It won’t be an easy decision, for sure. It will be based on where we are, what our flexibility looks like as far as usage goes. But it will be a tough decision.”
The Cardinals currently have a roster constructed of 13 pitchers and 12 position players. Certainly on paper, the easiest way to make room for Wong is to option a player back to Memphis. But who?
Infielder Yairo Munoz enters the day with a .293 average and has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 starts. His 29 RBIs are the tied for the fourth most on the team since May 26th.
Outfielders Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill also have options, but Tommy Pham was traded to provide playing time for the two of them.
The Cardinals have several arms in their bullpen with options, but again, the recent roster moves were done so with the young arms having the opportunity to perform and be evaluated at the big league level.
Dakota Hudson, Mike Mayers, Daniel Poncedeleon fall into that particular group. A move of one of them to the rotation could balance out the roster, but would result in a different young arm–Luke Weaver, John Gant being sent down.
John Brebbia still fills a valuable spot and Jordan Hicks is a key part of the back-end of the bullpen. Tyler Webb has options, but Shildt indicated that the Cardinals are likely to continue with a pair of lefty relievers.
That turns the direction back to the position players.
With Wong expected to receive the bulk of playing time at second base, that moves Munoz to a bench role with either Greg Garcia, Jedd Gyorko, or Jose Martinez as the odd man out.
Moving Garcia may be a quick reaction, but he is out of options and would very likely be claimed off waivers. A proven pinch-hitter and versatile in the field, Garcia is under team control through 2022. He also offers the a left-handed bat.
Due to make $13 million next season (some of which will be paid by San Diego) Gyorko may be the easier move through waivers.
Munoz has started four games at third base this season, but do the Cardinals feel comfortable enough to start him there more often? Or would Matt Carpenter handle the bulk of starts there and Jose Martinez would move back into first base?
It may be a good problem to have, but it doesn’t make it an easier one.
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