The 2014 St. Louis Cardinals Roster Matrix

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time of the year when there are no baseball games to enjoy--only baseball roster moves to fantasize about.

The St. Louis Cardinals outrighted Adron Chambers, Rob Johnson, and Brock Peterson to the minors on Tuesday. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reported the roster moves at her By Gosh! blog. Each of the three players have filed as free agents. The transactions opened up three roster spots on the Cardinals' 40-man roster.

Tuesday's moves were the second round of transactions since the World Series' end. Last week, several veterans became free agents. Chris Carpenter, Carlos Beltran, Rafael Furcal, and Edward Mujica all filed for free agency. The Cardinals declined Jake Westbrook's 2014 option and paid him $1 million not to pitch in St. Louis next season, making him a free agent as well. By the end of the day, the Cardinals had shed nearly $45 million in salary.

PLAYER

POSITION

‘13 GAMES

fWAR

rWAR

SALARY

Carlos Beltran

RF

145

2.0

2.4

- $13MM

Edward Mujica

RP

65

0.0

1.5

- $3.2MM

Jake Westbrook

SP

21

-0.2

-0.6

- $8.75MM

Chris Carpenter

SP

0

0.0

0.0

- $12.5MM

Rafael Furcal

SS

0

0.0

0.0

- $7.5MM

TOTAL

-

231

1.8

3.3

- $44.95MM

The Cardinals responded to Beltran's free agency by making the switch-hitter a $14.1 million qualifying offer. If Beltran turns down the offer, the Cardinals could gain a draft from the team that signs him. The slugger appears unlikely to accept the one-year deal. According to the MLB.com Important Dates calendar, Beltran has until November 11 to decide whether to accept or decline that Cardinals' qualifying offer.

If Beltran accepts the $14.1 million, one-year deal, he will receive a $2.1 million raise from 2013 to 2014. This would make him one of many Cardinals to receive a raise next season. Some players will receive a raise per the terms of their contracts; others will receive one because they are eligible for salary arbitration under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Cardinals must decide on or before December 2 whether to tender contracts to the following arbitration-eligible players:

MLB Trade Rumors has put together a formula for projecting the salaries of arbitration-eligible players. It's been remarkably accurate in recent years. MLB Trade Rumors released the projected arbitration salaries for the Cardinals this week.

The following chart contains the salary increases that Cardinals will receive under their individual contracts as well as the projected salary increases for arbitration-eligible players from MLB Trade Rumors.

PLAYER

POSITION

‘13 SALARY

‘14 SALARY

‘14-’13 Diff.

Adam Wainwright

SP

$12MM

$19.5MM

+ $7.5MM

Jason Motte

RP

$4.5MM

$7.5MM

+ $3MM

Jon Jay*

CF

$524K

$3.4MM**

+ $2.876MM

Jaime Garcia

SP

$5.875MM

$7.875MM

+ $2MM

David Freese*

3B

$3.15MM

$4.4MM**

+ $1.25MM

Randy Choate

RP

$1.5MM

$3MM

+ $1.5MM

Yadier Molina

C

$14.2MM

$15.2MM

+ $1MM

Allen Craig

1B/OF

$1.75MM

$2.75MM

+ $1MM

John Axford*

RP

$5MM

$5.7MM**

+ $700K

Daniel Descalso*

IF

$511K

$1.2MM**

+ $689K

Fernando Salas*

RP

$512K

$700K**

+ $188K

TOTAL

-

$66.010MM

$87.525MM

+ $21.515MM

*Arbitration-eligible player.

**MLB Trade Rumors' estimated 2014 salary.

This leads us to that good ol' VEB Hot Stove staple: The Roster Matrix. In 2014, the Cards will likely have a lot of players eligible for the league-minimum salary. According to the CBA, the 2014 league minimum is $500,000. This is merely a salary floor and clubs have discretion to pay players a higher amount. This discretion is what led Mike Trout's agent to engage in a PR campaign prior to 2013 encouraging the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to pay Trout a higher salary. The Angels wound up paying Trout $510,000 last year, which was $20,000 more than the minimum.

The Cardinals also pay players more than the league minimum. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, St. Louis paid Joe Kelly ($493,000), Shane Robinson ($498,000), Tony Cruz ($503,000), Matt Carpenter ($504,000), Daniel Descalso ($511,000), Fernando Salas ($512,000), Lance Lynn ($513,000), and Jon Jay ($524,000) more than the $490,000 league minimum in 2013. As you can see, the Cards pay players in excess of the league minimum based on MLB service time.

The 2014 Roster Matrix is a difficult one to put together at this point in the Hot Stove. There are many unknowns. Consequently, this version attempts to reflect the possibilities moving forward.

Players who are arbitration-eligible are highlighted in yellow. Beltran is in green because he has a $14.1 million offer on the table. Oscar Taveras is blue because he is not on the 40-man roster at present. In light gray are those players--Ryan Jackson, Tyler Lyons, and John Gast--currently on the 40-man roster but most unlikely to make the 25-man roster out of spring training. Lastly, there is the dead salary of WIG in dark gray.

The Cardinals may not offer every arbitration-eligible player a contract. They have already outrighted the arbitration-eligible Johnson. Other non-tender candidates include Salas and Axford, two righthanded relievers who may not be worth St. Louis giving a raise due to the number of arms they have to fill their bullpen. Some believe Freese may not be tendered a contract.

The pitching staff is also hard to project. At present, there are seven candidates for the starting rotation: Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez. Some are surer bets than others. Wainwright will start Opening Day barring injury. Garcia is a big question mark due to his shoulder injury. Which of the young starters will secure the remaining rotation spots is an open question.

Then there's the potential for a trade or free agent signing. Given the rosterbation going on in the comments section since season's end, you're all aware of these possibilities.

STARTERS

BENCH

ROTATION

BULLPEN

C - Y. Molina

$14.2MM

IF - D. Descalso

$1.2MM

RHP - A. Wainwright

$19.5MM

RHP - J. Motte

$7.5MM

1B - M. Adams

$500K

C - T. Cruz

$503K

LHP - J. Garcia

$7.875MM

RHP - J. Axford

$5.7MM

2B - M. Carpenter

$504K

OF - S. Robinson

$500K

RHP - L. Lynn

$513K

LHP - R. Choate

$3.0MM

3B - D. Freese

$4.4MM

IF - K. Wong

$500K

RHP - J. Kelly

$500K

RHP - F. Salas

$700K

SS - P. Kozma

$500K

OF - C. Beltran

$14.1MM

RHP - S. Miller

$500K

RHP - T. Rosenthal

$500K

LF - M. Holliday

$17MM

OF - O. Taveras

$500K

RHP - M. Wacha

$500K

LHP - K. Siegrist

$500K

CF - J. Jay

$3.4MM

IF - R. Jackson

$500K

LHP - T. Lyons

$500K

RHP - S. Maness

$500K

RF - A. Craig

$2.75MM

WIG - T. Wigginton

$2.5MM

LHP - J. Gast

$500K

RHP - C. Martinez

$500K

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