Baseball

Cardinals Could Look For Depth Addition At Shortstop

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The Cardinals are set to turn shortstop over to rookie Masyn Winn. The 21-year-old debuted late last season and is still set for the starting job despite hitting .172/.230/.238 in his first 37 big league games. That’ll push last year’s Opening Day shortstop Tommy Edman to center field on most days.

Edman is delayed in camp after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his right wrist. While he is confident he’ll be ready by Opening Day, manager Oli Marmol acknowledged yesterday that the Cards are considering various options to back Winn up (link via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

That includes evaluating options outside the organization. Goold writes that St. Louis has considered adding a depth shortstop. It’s not clear precisely which players they might target, although each of Nick AhmedElvis Andrus and Brandon Crawford remain available via free agency.

All three would be limited to either minor league or low-base MLB offers. Ahmed, 34 next month, was released by the Diamondbacks last September after a 10-year run in Arizona. The two-time Gold Glove winner has continued to post good, albeit no longer elite, defensive grades as he has gotten into his mid-30s. His already subpar offensive numbers dropped off last season, as he hit .212/.257/.303 through 210 plate appearances.

Andrus, 35, appeared in 112 games for the White Sox a year ago. That included 43 starts and 404 innings at shortstop. He hit .251/.304/.358 over 406 plate appearances. Andrus has typically posted solid defensive marks throughout his career. His numbers have predictably tailed off as he’s gotten into his 30s, but both Defensive Runs Saved and Statcast’s Outs Above Average pegged him as an average defender in nearly 500 second base innings last season. Statcast rated him slightly above average at shortstop, while DRS had him a bit below par there.

There was an even sharper divide in the defensive metrics on Crawford’s work last year. Statcast rated him as four runs better than average over 725 2/3 innings. DRS, on the other hand, tagged him with a grisly -14 runs that’d make him one of the sport’s worst defensive shortstops. Crawford’s bat has fallen off since his 2021 resurgence. He hit .194/.273/.314 over 320 plate appearances last year. Jon Heyman of the New York Post wrote last night that the career-long Giant has received some interest but could consider retirement if he doesn’t find the right fit.

Beyond that trio, the Cards could look to utility possibilities. Enrique Hernández is miscast as a regular option at shortstop but can play there in a pinch in addition to work at second base and any outfield spot. He is reportedly nearing a decision on his next destination. Harold Castro is a multi-positional infielder with some shortstop experience who remains unsigned. Players like Kevin Newman (Diamondbacks) and José Iglesias (Mets) are on minor league deals with other teams and could come available later in the spring if they don’t make the roster with their current club.

If the Cards do make an acquisition, it isn’t likely to be anyone who’d seriously cut into Winn’s playing time. Goold writes that St. Louis didn’t show any interest in Tim Anderson before his $5MM agreement with the Marlins because they’re not looking for an everyday player. Should the Cards stick with their in-house group, Edman would remain the backup at shortstop, with Dylan Carlson stepping into center field between Lars Nootbaar and Jordan Walker on days when Winn needs a break. Brendan Donovan is a bat-first player who is better suited at second base, as is depth infielder José Fermín.

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