Today, at some point, the Cardinals will officially announce their 40 man roster. They will add players. They may remove players. We may even be in for a trade. Unfortunately, I have no idea when this will happen.
I am taking a calculated gamble that the 40 man roster will not be decided when this is published. I think it would be interesting to guess what the 40 man will look like on Wednesday even if my guesses are already wrong when you read this.
The Cardinals currently have 38 players on the 40 man roster. As far as I can tell, they have 11 players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not protected. The majority of the 11 will not be protected and stand little risk of getting picked.
It is worth looking at the 11 players first, so I know how many spots need to be open. Ideally, the Cardinals only need to protect two players. I already know it's more than that unfortunately.
Edit: I forgot to include Ramon Urias, who is definitely in danger of being picked. I do not think he will be protected, but it is a risk to leave him off.
Safe to Leave Off
Ryan McCarvel played mostly DH for Palm Beach and managed an 81 wRC+. Chris Chinea is going to be playing in his age 25 season and just finished an 81 wRC+ campaign in Springfield. Both of these guys are old for their level, were below average at offense, and 1B only prospects. Easy pass.
There are a trio of relievers who shouldn't be picked. Junior Fernandez, a lower tier prospect, only pitched 30 innings in 2018, which included 21 bad ones at Springfield. Bryan Dobzanski was very good, but his highest level was Palm Beach. Roel Ramirez was only okay at Springfield. He is the closest to ready right now, but I would be surprised if a team thought they could stash him in an MLB bullpen for a whole year.
Lastly, you can probably leave off Wadye Ynfante. He might be good at defense, but he had a 91 wRC+ at State College. He will start next year at Peoria at 21 so it's not even like he is super young for the level. I just don't see it. Dennis Ortega has a good defensive reputation and is a catcher, but he was a league average hitter in Peoria. Plus he's behind Carson Kelly and Andrew Knizner so this would just be burning his options for the next few years.
Danger of Being Picked
Ryan Helsley had an injury-shortened year, but was very good in Memphis in 5 starts and decent in Springfield. Someone will see his 25.3 K% at Springfield and 32.1 K% at Memphis and think he might be useful in the bullpen.
Lane Thomas was a surprise breakout player this year. He had a 123 wRC+ and 21 homers in Springfield. He got promoted to Memphis and mostly held his own with a 110 wRC+ and 15 extra base hits in 32 games. He is also going to be 23 next year. Some bad team might make him a fifth outfielder for his future.
Genesis Cabrera will be playing in his age 22 season and is a lefty. He was only okay in Springfield, but he might be the best prospect of this group. A team could find a role for him in the bullpen since he is a lefty with good stuff.
Lastly, Max Schrock had a disappointing season in Memphis. He had a shockingly low 63 wRC+. He rides or dies with BABIP but will be 24 and is a middle infielder. There are probably teams who will have worse backup middle infielders than him next year and not because they are forced to keep him on the roster.
I think they DFA Tyler Webb. They add Thomas, Helsley and Cabrera. They might trade Patrick Wisdom, Conner Greene, or Adolis Garcia to make room for Schrock (edit: or Urias.) Or they might keep Webb but trade or release two of those three players. They might have a deal in place for Jose Martinez right now! I expect some type of trade tomorrow, most likely a fringe player who will net a similar return to the Aledmys Diaz trade (JB Woodman has already been released.)
I dont expect everyone on the 40 man roster on Wednesday to remain with the team on Opening Day, but that isn't what tomorrow is for. Tomorrow is to keep as many people as possible so the Cards can keep their options open.
Assuming nothing has been announced as of 11 A.M., post your predictions in the comments.