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Cardinals payroll at $139 million with projected Opening Day roster

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The Cardinals have not spent to get a big name star, but payroll is going up this year.

Craig Edwards

The Cardinals have made some minor moves over the last few weeks, bringing in Korean reliever Seung Hwan Oh, and finalizing deals with arbitration-eligible players Brandon Moss, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Adams and Seth Maness. Previously, we had estimated those salaries based on the work from MLB Trade Rumors. The website had estimated $16.8 million. The final tally was a very close $16.9 million, overestimating Rosenthal and underestimating the rest.

We have reached the point in the offseason where we can start guessing at the Cardinals' Opening Day 25-man roster. The rotation is set. While we might not how playing time will be given at first base or in the outfield, we have a pretty good idea of who will be getting the playing time. If Jordan Walden and Yadier Molina are healthy by Opening Day (no sure thing), the only spring training battle as far as the 25-man roster is concerned is the final infield position. Greg Garcia is the incumbent, and for now, he gets the final nod.

Projected Opening Day 25-man roster

Rotation

  • Adam Wainwright
  • Carlos Martinez
  • Michael Wacha
  • Jaime Garcia
  • Mike Leake
If that rotation makes it to Opening Day, I think everyone can breath a least a small sigh of relief.

Bullpen

  • Trevor Rosenthal
  • Kevin Siegrist
  • Jonathan Broxton
  • Seung Hwan Oh
  • Seth Maness
  • Jordan Walden
  • Tyler Lyons
Walden is the wild card here, as his health is in doubt after last season. If he is injured, or if Tyler Lyons is summoned to the rotation due to injury, then a battle will commence potentially including Rule 5 pick Matt Bowman (who goes back to the Mets if not on the active roster), Sam Tuivailala, Marco Gonzales, Tim Cooney, and potentially Mitch Harris, Dean Kiekhefer, and Miguel Socolovich.

Starting Lineup

  • Matt Carpenter
  • Matt Holliday
  • Brandon Moss
  • Stephen Piscotty
  • Jhonny Peralta
  • Kolten Wong
  • Randal Grichuk
  • Yadier Molina
Based on the statements from the Cardinals, Moss is expected to get the first crack at starting first base and Grichuk is expected to start in center field. For both of those players, Matt Adams and Tommy Pham sit behind them ready for the opportunity should injury or ineffectiveness strike. There is also the possibility that Molina is not ready by Opening Day, in which case, Brayan Pena will step in as starter.

Bench

  • Matt Adams
  • Tommy Pham
  • Jedd Gyorko
  • Brayan Pena
  • Greg Garcia
That final spot could prove interesting as Aledmys Diaz has clearly improved his stock with the organization given his performance at the end of last season and in the Arizona Fall League. Much depends on how the organization views Diaz. If they view him as a potential starter down the road, they might not want to hamstring his playing time behind Jhonny Peralta, especially with Gyorko already expected to received decent playing time as substitute at various infield positions.

The chart below represents a potential 25-man roster with the salaries owed to Lance Lynn, who will not play, and Diaz, who might. From the list above, there are 24 of the 25 players shown, with Diaz and his salary in place of Garcia, plus Lynn and his salary. The Cardinals have stepped up payroll this season, but it still shows pretty large declines in the seasons to come.
Cardinals payroll 1202016