Cardinals Make 2021 Opening Day Roster Decisions

photo: John Nogowski via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals sent six players to the minors following today’s game (Sunday, March 28), optioning pitcher Kodi Whitley and outfielder Lane Thomas and re-assigning catchers Tyler Heineman and Dennis Ortega and infielders Max Moroff and Josė Rondón.

The team also announced that it plans to place pitchers Dakota Hudson (right elbow), Kwang Hyun Kim (back) and Miles Mikolas (right shoulder), and outfielder Harrison Bader (right forearm) on the 10-day Injured List.

With today’s transactions, the team has indicated that it plans to include 1st baseman/outfielder John Nogowski, infielder Edmundo Sosa, outfielders Austin Dean and Justin Williams, and pitcher Jake Woodford on its 26-man Opening Day roster which will be officially submitted and announced the morning of Thursday, April 1.

Brian Walton’s take

The club formalized its earlier hinted-upon-decision to go with 13 pitchers and 13 position players. From my roster prediction 3.0 article, I had two misses. Woodford made the bullpen over Whitley and Dean edged out Thomas in the outfield. All four were already on the 40-man roster.

Dean and Williams may initially alternate in right, with Nogowski a reserve in left field and first base. Sosa will cover the three non-first base infield positions as a reserve and Woodford will likely serve as long reliever.

Interestingly, 2021 position player reserves Andrew Knizner, Sosa and Dean also made the 2020 team, though none of the three remained on the roster for the entirety of the shortened 58-game season.

NRIs shut out/Opening Day debuts

With the two non-roster infielders Moroff and Rondon not making the team (as well as catchers Heineman and Ortega), all 26 of the new Cardinals were already on the 40-man roster. It is an indication of the continuity of the roster from year to year. With the exception of third baseman Nolan Arenado, all 26 players on the Opening Day roster were in the organization in 2020.

Six others making their first Cardinals Opening Day are relievers Genesis Cabrera, Jake Woodford and Giovanny Gallegos, infielder John Nogowski and outfielders Justin Williams and Dylan Carlson. All except Gallegos, who was on the injured list, opened 2020 in the minors.

The last time a non-roster invitee did not make the team out of camp was 2013. In prior years, NRIs to make the Cardinals were:

  • 2020: Kodi Whitley, RP
  • 2019: Matt Wieters, C
  • 2018: Francisco Peña, C
  • 2017: Eric Fryer, C
  • 2016: Fryer, Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF
  • 2015: Carlos Villanueva, RP
  • 2014: Pat Neshek, RP

Full roster

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 26 and 40-man rosters, alternate camp as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

St. Louis (26+4)
Flaherty Cabrera (L) Y Molina Goldschmidt Edman DeJong Arenado O’Neill
Wainwright Webb (L) Knizner Nogowski Sosa Carpenter Carlson
C Martinez A Miller (L) J Williams
Ponce de Leon Helsley Dean
Gant A Reyes
G Gallegos Bader (10 IL)
D Hudson (10 IL) Woodford
Kim (L 10 IL) Hicks
Mikolas (10 IL)

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