Every player on the Cardinals has an acquisition history. Some, like Yadier Molina, drafted in 2000, are very simple. Others, like outfielders Randal Grichuk and Peter Bourjos, have longer, more complicated chains leading them to the Cardinals. I have attempted to categorize the players with the most likely to chances to make the Opening Day roster in 2015. That added up to 28 players. Ty Kelly and Stephen Piscotty could have made this list, but both players have a few guys in front them at the moment. A lot could change over the next few months, but this is my best guess with the information we have now.
A few examples:
In 1997, the Cardinals drafted Adam Kennedy. Less than a year later, the team signed Kent Bottenfield after his release from the Chicago Cubs. In 2000, the Cardinals turned those two players into Jim Edmonds, who turned into David Freese, who, along with Fernando Salas who had been signed out of Mexico, the Cardinals turned into Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.
The Grichuk and Bourjos trail is the most convoluted, but it is not the longest. In 1993, the Cardinals drafted Eli Marrero. Five years later, the Cardinals would draft draft J.D. Drew. Another five years would pass before the team would trade those two players for Adam Wainwright.
Carlos Martinez is the only amateur international free agent on the team. Rather than create a separate section just for him, he is included in the free agent section. All drafted players are listed in the year they were drafted. All players traded in the middle of a season are listed in that season, and all players acquired in the offseason are listed in the following season. For example, Jason Heyward was traded for in 2014, but he was brought in to play his first game in 2015, so he is listed under 2015.
Unsurprisingly, the Cardinals have obtained the bulk of their players from the draft. Fifteen of the 28 players were drafted and developed by the Cardinals. The Cardinals have used 14 players to make trades for seven players on the current team. Of those 14, ten were drafted by the Cardinals. Three of the free agents are one-year deals signed for 2015, and the only non-amateur free agents signed from outside the organization prior to 2015 are Randy Choate and Jhonny Peralta.
Not mentioned in the graphic, but of some interest regarding the draft, several of the Cardinals drafted were compensation pick selections. Lance Lynn was picked after the Cardinals let Troy Percival go to free agency. Michael Wacha was drafted with the pick the Cardinals received when Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. Tyrell Jenkins, sent away in the Jason Heyward deal, was a compensation pick in 2010 that the Cardinals received after Joel Pineiro left the team.
The graphic does shine some light on areas where the Cardinals have work to do. Carlos Martinez is the only player expected to make an impact in 2015 who was signed and developed by the Cardinals from outside the U.S. Only Martinez, Johnny Peralta, Mexican-born Jaime Garcia, and Puerto Rican-born Yadier Molina were born outside of the 50 United States, and Molina and Garcia were both drafted by the Cardinals as Garcia was from Texas and Puerto Rican players are subject to the amateur draft.
The Cardinals long-running success is built on a very solid foundation through the amateur draft and prudent trades. They have made a few free agent and international signings, but the vast majority of their success is due to drafting and developing players who contribute at the highest level.
Note: This was my first crack at something like this. Suggestions are welcome on ways to improve it. If there is interest, I could create a similar one for 2006 and 2011.
Edit: Jhonny was not spelled correctly in the first version. I also added emphasis for Carlos Martinez as an international signing.