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Who Will Be the Cardinals Utility Infielder?

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MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals have their starting infield locked down after the acquisition of Nolan Arenado. This also means that Matt Carpenter will likely be the primary bench bat. However, Carpenter cannot play shortstop, and he has not played second base since 2018 when he played just 83 below average innings there. This means that the Cardinals will need a utility infielder who can play up the middle this season, in order to give days off to Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman. Additionally, it would also be beneficial if that player could play the corners as well in order to give Mike Shildt more flexibility.

Currently, it seems that Edmundo Sosa is the front-runner. However, it appears that the Cardinals will have an open competition in Spring Training and there are a few good options.

To begin with, Edmundo Sosa spent time in the majors in both 2018 and 2019 while spending the majority of those seasons in Triple-A. This gives him plenty of upper level experience, while he is also out of options. Due to this, it seems that he will get the first shot at the utility infield role. However, he has not been an above average hitter since leaving rookie-level ball. This should not be a huge issue, though, as the utility infield role is primarily a defensive one, and Sosa has experience playing shortstop, second base and third base.

The Cardinals have other glove-first infielders with Triple-A experience in the organization that should provide Sosa with plenty of competition. One of these is Kramer Robertson. The former 4th round pick of the Cardinals split the 2019 season between Double-A and Triple-A, with Triple-A being the first place where he has posted a below average wRC+. Also, like Sosa, he has experience playing shortstop, second base, and third base.

Robertson has always posted excellent walk rates while also avoiding strikeouts. This has allowed him to post an OBP above .344 in each of his three seasons in the Cardinals organization. This gives him the potential for some offensive value in the majors, which would pair well with his strong, and versatile, defensive ability.

Another option is Evan Mendoza, who is probably the best defender of the group, but could also have the worst bat. Mendoza has played third base, first base, and shortstop in the minors, but he played everywhere in the infield in the Colombia this winter, where he made plenty of slick plays. This ability to play all four infield positions distinguishes him from Sosa and Robertson, but if he is going to use this to his advantage, then he needs to prove that he can hit.

Mendoza is a slap hitter with limited power who also does not draw a large amount of walks. Additionally, Mendoza has just six games of Triple-A experience. Because of this, he seems to be the least likely option to win the job in Spring Training, but an impressive spring campaign could certainly give him the chance to break camp with the team, although he will need his glove to carry him.

Outside of these three options, the Cardinals brought in a pair of minor league infielders with invitations to Spring Training. These are Jose Rondon and Max Moroff, and of the two, Rondon seems to have the best chance of making the major league roster.

Rondon has 290 major league plat appearances and is the favorite of the group with the ZIPS projections, which have projected him for 1.2 WAR in 424 plate appearances. The 26-year-old can play second, third, and shortstop, while he also has limited experience in the outfield and at first base. Additionally, Rondon has not had great overall results between Triple-A and the majors, but he has scattered some solid seasons into the last few years of his career. He also dominated the Venezuelan Winter League this year and finished 13th in its MVP voting.

Finally, Moroff is a slick fielding middle infielder who draws most of his offensive value from walks. He has also made 244 plate appearances at the major league level.

This is a lot of competition for Edmundo Sosa, and while the organization likely wants to hold on to him, they may be willing to risk losing him on waivers if someone can beat him out in the Spring. The favorites for this utility infield role are probably Sosa and Rondon, but it would not be surprising to see Kramer Robertson end up on top by the end of Spring Training.

The 26-year-old has moved quickly through the Cardinals organization, and probably has the best bat of the bunch. Additionally, he has the kind of profile that the Cardinals love as he was drafted as a college senior out of LSU with strong makeup and leadership skills. Additionally, his versatility and approach at the plate are likely going to work in his favor, and with a strong spring, he could very well be spending the year in St. Louis.