How many Cardinals minor league cuts may be coming?

As many St. Louis Cardinals fans may already know, the organization has suspended play in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2011. I broke that story at The Cardinal Nation on February 2.

While organization officials say mass releases would not occur as a result of the decision, the system will still face a numbers crunch this spring and summer that may be even more acute than in recent years.

This post will make some rough approximations of the number of players potentially involved in future releases during 2011.

To do this, some assumptions have to be made.

I will make each roster full to its allowable league limit. Above the maximum roster size at each level, I will assign five players to the disabled list or inactive list, shown below as “Inactive.” This count is based on what the Cardinals have done in previous years. Some might wonder if this is overly aggressive, but my intent is to come up with a reasonable estimate of the number of players to be released.

Further, we will assume no free agent additions will occur and 45 players will be signed from the June 2011 draft. The last point is a bit tricky to assess timing-wise as the top players often hold off signing until the mid-August deadline. For that reason, in this roster exercise, I will use only 40 of the projected 45 signed players.

Timing-wise, there are two key inflection points. One is at the start of April when minor league rosters must be set. Those players not on one of four full-season squads will either be released or retained for extended spring training camp.

Within about ten days following the conclusion of the June draft, the Cardinals’ four short-season clubs will begin play. At that point, the music stops and everyone signed to a contract must have a chair.

I am going to break this analysis into what I am calling “Sources” and “Uses.” The former is where the players come from and the latter is where they are going.

Starting with sources, you can see from the Roster Matrix that the Cardinals currently have 289 players under contract, including the major league club. Add to that 40 players signed from the June draft and you have 329 players to be rostered somewhere.

Under contract 289
June draft 40
Total 329

Here is the “Uses” view. The league maximum roster sizes are listed along with an allocation of five for inactive players.


Major League Active Inactive Total
St. Louis 25 5
Memphis 24 5
Springfield 24 5
Palm Beach 25 5
Quad Cities 25 5
Batavia 30 5
Johnson City 35 5
Gulf Coast 35 5
Dominican 35 5
Total 258 45 303

As you can tell from a quick comparison, even with 45 players inactive, the Cardinals would have to release at least 26 players (329 minus 303) between now and this summer.

One might argue the actual number of cuts could prove to be even higher. We shall see over the upcoming months.

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