It is that time of the year where you hear a new rumor everyday about your favorite MLB team. The Houston Astros finished off their phenomenal 2022 season and won the World Series, and every team is looking to the future. The St. Louis Cardinals got booted in the Wild Card series, and preparation for the future began the moment after the final out.
When you are a team like the Cardinals, you always want to get better. Without the big bank of teams like the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, you have to improvise a little. Sure, it would be nice to sign every star-free agent on the market, but that is simply not feasible.
This should be one of the most exciting offseasons we have seen in years for the Cardinals. We should see a big named player sign at the catcher position and potentially even at shortstop. John Mozeliak stated Tommy Edman is the guy, but take that with a grain of salt.
To have the offseason that we need, a big trade will have to happen. We could sign Willson Contreras, but that would take a lot of money away from a guy like Trea Turner or Carlos Correa. One of the players most likely to be traded is Lars Nootbaar, but should we get rid of him?
Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals cannot control themselves and they have incredibly high expectations. They expect to sign Willson Contreras, Trea Turner and trade for Mike Trout. We would be lucky if any of those options happen.
Lars Nootbaar’s name pops up frequently when discussing trades. His name is thrown around when it comes to acquiring a starting arm like Sean Manaea. There is a lot of debate on if we should trade Nootbaar, and I do not think we should.
During the series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Nootbaar led off both games with a hit. He went 2-6 with two walks in the series. Noot brought the energy when nobody else did. A lot of fans think you have to separate the fact that he is a fan favorite from the debate, but it is much bigger than that.
Nootbaar is a plus defender and is adding more power to his swing. He can bat anywhere in the lineup and is a great contact guy. His .228 batting average will not blow you away, but his ability to get on base is essential. At 25 years old, his strikeout rate is below the league average, which should only improve over the years.
I do think trading a fan favorite is foolish. That is a pretty silly mindset to have as a GM, but it is something to consider. Nootbaar’s value might be at an all-time high, but I think he will only get better. Having only played two MLB seasons, 2023 will be huge for the young man from El Segundo. He deserves to be the everyday right fielder next season in St. Louis.
If the St. Louis Cardinals do not trade Lars Nootbaar, who should be on the block? There are some obvious answers, and some tough ones, but let’s get into it.
The easiest and most obvious answer here is Paul DeJong. I was high on DeJong early on and really wanted him to get a second chance. Well, he got that second chance, and it turned out pretty ugly. His time in St. Louis is done.
Nolan Gorman should also be on the trade block. The rookie struck out 36.4% of the time and had the same amount of home runs as Nootbaar in just seven fewer at-bats. That was supposed to be his calling card, but the long ball was few and far between. I would love for Gorman to stick around, but he should be on the block.