It is no secret that there is a problem in the outfield for the Cardinals. Without change the 2021 season could be just as disappointing. I have no doubt Dylan Carlson will be a bright point by the end of the season but he alone can not carry the production. Dexter Fowler has had a lackluster few seasons with the Cardinals offensively with not much indication of turn around coming. He has his moments where you think he has pulled everything together just for it to fall apart soon after. Harrison Bader is panning out to be more of a defensive weapon with lack of damage at the plate. While Tyler O’Neill is an all or nothing kind of guy. It's either a home-run or a trip back to the bench. Granted O'Neill won a gold glove this past season so he is also a defensive weapon like Bader. Lane Thomas injuries have held him from proving his worth. Austin Dean and Justin Williams have not had much of a chance to prove they belong in the mix.
If the offseason goes as many expect then Kolten Wong will not be resigning with the Cardinals. Making Tommy Edman the everyday starting second baseman and pulling his hat from the outfield mix. The last place to look internally is the top 30 prospects but the only MLB ready outfielders are the aforementioned Carlson and Williams. There could be some interesting targets on the trade block, a acquisition would more than likely include one of our young outfielders. Yet, the Cardinals are hesitant after watching several outfielders they traded away in the past few seasons turn into valuable contributors. That leaves free agency as the last option but with the money issues the 2020 season has caused new signings may be difficult for the team to justify. If the Cardinals are in on free agent outfielders, here's who the targets should be.
Joc Pederson, Cardinals had been rumored to be interested in trading for Pederson the past couple seasons. Now could be their time to finally get him via free agency. While he doesnt hit for a high average his power is undeniable. His career stat line is .230 BA/.336 OBP/.470 SLG/.806 OPS/116 OPS+ with 130 home-runs in 7 seasons. He has hit 25+ home runs in seasons that he has over 400 at-bats and would offer some protection behind Goldschmidt in the lineup. But the Cardinals may think they have a similar player in Tyler O’Neill if he could get on the right track.
Eddie Rosario, one of the most surprising players to be non-tendered this year has been a productive outfielder in his MLB career with a .277 BA/.310 OBP/.478 SLG/.788 OPS stat line. In 2019 he had a career high in home-runs with 32 and a .800 OPS. Even in the shortened 2020 season he hit 13 home runs which is nearly double what Brad Miller and Tyler O'Neill, the Cardinals home run leaders hit in the season. He could easily slot into multiple spots in the lineup and offer the best production in the outfield the Cardinals have had in several seasons.
Yasiel Puig, did not play last season after a contract with the Braves got dropped after he tested positive for COVID-19. In 2019 for the Reds and Cleveland he hit .267 BA/.327 OBP/.458 SLG/.785 OPS. If he is ready to return to 2019 form in 2021 the Cardinals need to consider signing him. He is a candidate to get a one year deal after what happened last season and would not be very expensive. At the same time he is probably the least likely for the Cardinals to go after as they don't like controversial players. He is not an example of the "Cardinal way" even though he has matured since his early days in Los Angeles.
Nomar Mazara, another player that has been rumored as a trade target in the past. In Texas, 2016-2019 his stats have been relatively consistent. He hit .261 BA/.320 OBP/.435 SLG/.745 OPS in those years, but took a step back in the shortened season like many other players in the league. He is only going into his age 26 season and will more than likely return to similar production to his career statline in 2021.
Jurickson Profar, by far the most versatile player on the list he can play every position except pitcher and catcher. In 2018 and 2019 he hit 20 home runs and over .700 OPS . In the past season with the Padres he hit .278 BA/.343 OBP/.428 SLG/.771 OPS. While he is not expected to keep a statline similar to that in a full season he will still be a valuable player that could fill in all over the diamond.
Adam Duvall, he is an intriguing player but very risky. His career stats have been all over the place year to year. In 2019 and 2020 his OPS has been over .830 but couldn't get over .700 the 3 years before. Going into his age 32 season he is the oldest on this list and hardest to predict making him a less likely but possible option.