I can’t remember a time when I paid close attention to the non-tender deadline. Until today. There were reports that the Cardinals were attempting to trade Dakota Hudson aggressively and that it may have indicated he would be nontendered. Suddenly, my interest was piqued.
We have non-tendered the following players:— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 18, 2023
RHP Dakota Hudson
RHP Jake Woodford
C Andrew Knizner
1B/OF Juan Yepez
Our 40-player roster now stands at 36.
And the reports were true. Hudson was nontendered. I didn’t truly think the Cardinals would do it, because, well they held onto Hudson this long. They stashed him in the minors for most of the year and he does have an option next year. Insofar as he’s useful as depth though, he can’t be in the majors long before the Cardinals have to send him down. Once he spends 16 days on the MLB roster, he reaches 5 years of service time and then loses his option. And his production can be duplicated by league minimum guys.
Woodford was more straightforward. The Cardinals can’t send him down. They have burned all three of his options. They have determined he’s not good enough to be on an MLB roster, at least on Opening Day. He would have also been in line to make $1.1 million, which is essentially nothing for an MLB team, but still, his production can be duplicated for cheaper at the worst.
Yepez might come as more of a surprise. There might have been something going on behind the scenes for the Cardinals to lose faith. Or it’s as straightforward as it looks. Yepez, after looking like a promising hitter, suddenly couldn’t hit. We also know he can’t field. And saying he can’t field is generous to his fielding.
But for those confused about Yepez, it’s not about his MLB performance, it’s about his minor league performance. He was legit bad in AAA. He had an 82 wRC+ in 384 PAs. I truly don’t know what happened, but when you can do one thing well and you stop doing that well, teams will give up on you.
Lastly, Knizner comes as a great surprise. Let the Ivan Herrera era begin. There was no point in carrying Knizner if Herrera is the plan to backup Willson Contreras next year. Knizner is a fine enough backup catcher - but he doesn’t have any actual upside. Herrera does. The Cardinals already have Pedro Pages on the 40 man and having four catchers on the 40 man is kind of a bad use of the 40 man. If Pages’ defense is as reported, he’s already a backup quality catcher, so they didn’t really even need Knizner as depth.
So there you have it. The 40 man roster has been cleaned out. It now stands at 36 players. This non-tender deadline has solved the 40 man issues. The Cardinals are set to acquire a couple starting pitchers and a couple bullpen arms and any players beyond that would presumably involve the Cardinals trading a current 40 man player (like Tyler O’Neill or Dylan Carlson). So congratulations James Naile. You might actually make it to Opening Day on the 40 man.