St. Louis Cardinals 2023 Season Primer


A look at the St. Louis Cardinals for this season, along with key dates for the season

Also, roster analysis and top prospects

With the 2023 season upon us, it’s time to look at what we have in store for Cardinals. We’ll start with some general information for Opening Day and the rest of the 2023 season.

The Roster

Key Additions: Tres Barrera (MiLB deal), Willson Contreras (5 years, $87.5M), Jose Fermin (From Guardians for cash), Oscar Mercado (MiLB deal), Anthony Misiewicz (From Royals for cash), Taylor Motter (MiLB deal; added to 40-man), Juniel Querecuto (MiLB), Wilking Rodriguez (From Yankees in Rule V Draft), Adam Wainwright (1 year, $17.5M), Guillermo Zuniga (MLB deal)
Key Subtractions: Aaron Brooks, Ben DeLuzio, Corey Dickerson, T.J. McFarland, Yadier Molina, Freddy Pacheco, Albert Pujols, Jose Quintana, Alex Reyes

Projected Opening Day Roster
Starting Rotation: Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, Steven Matz, Jake Woodford
Bullpen: Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks, Packy Naughton, Andre Pallante, Chris Stratton, Zack Thompson, Drew VerHagen
Catchers: Contreras, Andrew Knizner
Infield: Nolan Arenado, Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Gorman, Motter
Outfield: Alec Burleson, Dylan Carlson, Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O’Neill, Jordan Walker*
Injured List: Paul DeJong, Rodriguez, Wainwright

* Walker still needs to be added to the 40-man roster at the time of writing. Walker was added to the roster right after this went live; Anthony Misiewicz was designated for assignment.

Woodford is in the rotation for now, until Wainwright is back. The rotation, even with Wainwright, is lacking an ace; when you compare the rotation to others in the division (and the NL at large), you’ll notice the difference. The key to winning the division and being a competitive team in the post-season: Flaherty. If we get a healthy Flaherty who makes a strong start to the season, then the team could go far; if not, it could be another 1 and done post-season.

Wainwright will be interesting to watch; he’s still pretty good at home, but struggle badly on the road last season. Oli Marmol will need to adjust the rotation to optimize Wainwright home starts, or it could be a long goodbye season.

The bullpen at least looks solid. The Hicks-Gallegos-Helsley backend is pretty strong,with Pallante and Thompson able to fill in any role. Naughton and VerHagen are liabilities. Someone will have to go down once Woodford is bumped from the rotation, and again once Rodriguez is healthy (or he’ll have to be offered back to the Yankees); those 2, along with Stratton, could be the ones gone.

If there is one thing that’s looking really good is the offense. We know what we have with the corner infielders. We know there is a lot of potential to the middle infield; Edman is pretty dang good, Donovan looks like he’s added some power, and Gorman, who will see time at DH, started hitting the high fastball this spring. The interesting thing will be when DeJong is ready; they’ll give him a long rehab stint to see what they got. If he’s half-way decent, they’ll jettison Motter; if not, he could be off the team.

There are more questions in the outfield then anywhere. Can O’Neill rebound from a down 2022? Will Carlson take a step forward? Can Nootbaar live up to the lofty expectation? How will Walker look in his first taste of MLB action? Is there a way to get everyone enough playing time? I’d love to see a 3 days on, 1 day off for each of these guys; the off day can be rest or time at DH. Walker is embedded at right field for his 3 days, but the other 3 can rotate as needed.

Check out the Salary Matrix to see the Cardinals’ payroll.

The Division

Chicago Cubs
Key Additions:
Tucker Barnhart (C), Cody Bellinger (OF), Brad Boxberger (RHRP), Michael Fulmer (RHRP), Eric Hosmer (1B), Trey Mancini (1B), Edwin Rios (3B), Drew Smyly (LHSP), Dansby Swanson (SS), Jameson Taillon (RHSP)
Key Subtractions: Willson Contreras (C), Jason Heyward (OF), P.J. Higgins (C/IF), Wade Miley (LHSP), Rafael Ortega (OF), Franmil Reyes (OF), Alfonso Rivas (OF)

The Cubs might have the most upgraded team in the division. After a couple of seasons of treading water and sheding payroll, the Cubs got a #2 pitcher, a shortstop, 2 first basemen, a centerfielder, and a couple of bullpen arms; and they only really lost Contreras.

That said, they missed out on the big name players; due to that, there are still question marks. Bellinger hasn’t been the same player that won the MVP award a few years ago; the Cubs are taking a low risk flyer here. Swanson is a good player, but he’s not the elite shortstop the team needed. Barnhart is solid, but he’s no Contreras. These guys join Ian Happ (free agent after the season), Nico Hoerner, Marcus Stroman, and Patrick Wisdom, who remain of core of last season’s team,

Cincinnati Reds
Key Additions: Will Benson (OF), Curt Casali (C), Luke Maile (C), Wil Myers (OF), Kevin Newman (SS), Nick Solak (OF), Luke Weaver (RHRP)
Key Subtractions: Aristides Aquino (OF), Kyle Farmer (SS), Jeff Hoffman (RHRP), Mike Minor (LHSP), Mike Moustakas (3B), Donovan Solano (IF), Art Warren (RHRP), Justin Wilson (LHRP)

Definitey the least interesting team in the league. They added Myers, who is, sadly, an upgrade in the outfield. Weaver hasn’t looked the same since he initially broke out in the D’back’s rotation right after they received him. Trading Farmer away was puzzling, as he was a key to their sad offense last season; it was strictly a salary move though. It was also puzzling that the team released Moustakas; he wasn’t good last season, but they should have at least seen if he could rebound rather then pay him $22M to not play for them (which is the Rockies gain).

Joey Votto is still here, but he’s a shell of his former self (and starting the season on the IL). At least they have Hunter Greene.

Milwaukee Brewers
Key Additions: Brian Anderson (3B/OF), William Contreras (C), Javy Guerra (RHRP), Wade Miley (LHSP), Owen Miller (IF), Blake Perkins (OF), Abraham Toro (IF), Luke Voit (1B), Bryce Wilson (RHRP), Justin Wilson (LHRP), Jesse Winker (OF)
Key Subtractions: Brad Boxberger (RHRP), Andrew McCutchen (OF), Omar Narvaez (C), Jace Peterson (IF), Hunter Renfroe (OF), Taylor Rogers (RHRP), Pedro Severino (RHRP), Brent Suter (RHSP), Kolten Wong (2B)

The Brewers still have a solid core, even with a lot of turnover this off-season. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes are better then any pitcher in our rotation. The bullpen still has STL native Devin Williams, who will handle the closing duties; the rest of the bullpen is kind of underrated. Willy Adames is their top bat in a pretty weak lineup. They are hoping for a rebound from former MVP Christian Yelich and any addition they get from Voit is an upgrade over Keston Hiura.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Key Additions: Ji-Man Choi (1B), Jarlin Garcia (LHRP), Austin Hedges (C), Rich Hill (LHSP), Connor Joe (OF), Andrew McCutchen (OF), Carlos Santana (1B), Vince Velasquez (RHSP)
Key Subtractions: Diego Castillo (IF), Junior Fernandez (RHRP), Ben Gamel (OF), Kevin Newman (SS), Hoy Park (IF), Roberto Perez (C), Bryce Wilson (RHRP)

If this were the Cardinals, Cubs, or Brewers, this wouldn’t look good; the moves pretty much make sense for the Pirates though. They handed out mostly 1 year deals that they could flip before the deadline; last season we gave them Johan Oviedo and Malcom Nunez for Jose Quintana and Stratton.

At this point, they are pretty much looking to the future, with Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz as the future of this team with Bryan Reynolds being a key piece to rebuilding, if/when they trade him. It’s bleak in Pittsburgh, but they look better right now then Cincinnati.

The Farm System

The Cardinals continue to have a strong farm system, with the 2020 draft looking like an all time great at this point; pretty remarkable considering it was only 5 rounds due to Covid. Here’s my top 10 prospects in the system:

1Jordan WalkerOFEasily top in the system; we’re about to see why.
2Masyn WinnSSHe could have broken camp with the team; unreal arm and we’ll see how the bat develops this season in Memphis.
3Tink HenceRHPAce potential; he struggle this spring, but he’s only 20 and still developing. Could be a solid 1-2-3 with Liberatore, if his spring was the real deal, and Graceffo.
4Gordon GraceffoRHPHe tore up the minors last season and should see a good deal of time at Memphis. If there is a serious injury, he could be the first guy added to the 40-man.
5Matthew LiberatoreLHPHe’s looked good this spring after an uninspiring rookie season. That short look isn’t a reason to give up on the potential. I think Woodford’s leash will be short and Liberatore could step in.
6Zack ThompsonLHPThe Cardinals have been critized for a having a lack of pitching in the system in recent years; Thompson would be starting this season with another team, but he’s stuck in the bullpen. He’s a starter in the long-run; as long as they don’t leave him in the bullpen past this season.
7Alec BurlesonOFI’m a Burleson fan and hated putting him this low; the guy has hit at every level until his MLB promotion last season. This shows both the depth of the system and the quality above him on the list. My Prospect Profile on Burleson.
8Cooper HjerpeLHPHjerpe has great stuff and could very easily be a mid-rotation starter within 2 seasons; he’s a quick mover in the vein of Michael Wacha and Marco Gonzales.
9Jonathan MejiaSSMejia was the prize of the 2022 International Signing Period for the Cardinals, and the shortstop played well in the Dominican Summer League. He’s got a great bat (plus bat speed and raw power). He’s got a ways to go, but he’s a guy to watch over the next couple of seasons.
10Ivan HerreraCHerrera’s in a tough spot; he’s still a very good prospect in a system where catcher hasn’t been a need. If he would have advanced a little further with the bat, he could have been starting this year instead of signing Contreras. I feel like he’s going to be trade bait if Contreras is hot.

And 5 more to watch: Michael McGreevy (RHP), Joshua Baez (OF), Moises Gomez (OF), Brycen Mautz (LHP), Inohan Paniagua (RHP)

Check out the Cardinal Prospect Tracker to see where my predictions land against other sites.


  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Milwaukee Brewers (WC)
  3. Chicago Cubs
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Cincinnati Reds

I believe the Cardinals will take the division again; the Brewers definitely are the biggest threat due to their pitching and the Cubs will be a close third with their upgrades. The Cardinals are the better team when matched up against any in the division. I think the Brewers will squeak into October with the second wild card.

What will hurt the Cardinals is the balanced schedule; rather than beating up on the division like in years past, the Cardinals will face tough opposition on a more regular basis. They now face the Central 52 times (down from 76), the rest of the NL 64 times (down from 66), and the AL 46 times (up from 20); they’ll face every AL team with 2 series against the Royals. The balanced schedule should show fans how the post-season could play out better then the last few years where the team went on runs and exited pretty quickly.

Personal accomplishments for the team will include Arenado’s first MVP, Walker a finalist for Rookie of the Year, and Marmol a potential Manager of the Year candidate. Donovan will hit 12 homers, while Gorman will break the 20 barrier. Edman will lead the league in stolen bases with 37. I think Wainwright will struggle and finish the season in the bullpen; I hate this one, but he’s given me little reason to think otherwise.

What are your preditions? Where am I wrong? Add your thoughts in the comments.

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