St. Louis Cardinals free agents entering 2021 offseason

After losing the NL Wild Card game to the Dodgers, here’s a look at the list of free agents for the St. Louis Cardinals entering the offseason.

At the close of baseball business on Aug. 8, the St. Louis Cardinals were a below .500 baseball team (55-56). But a 17-game winning streak in September pushed them into a Wild Card spot, with the uneviable spot of taking on the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cardinals season came to an end Wednesday night, on a walk-off home run by the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor. So now the focus will shift to the offseason, and some players will certainly not be back in the fold when they report to spring training. But the move to acquire Nolan Arenado last offseason proved the Cardinals are willing to be aggressive, and that should be the case again this winter.

St. Louis Cardinals free agents for 2021 offseason

Looking to the offseason, here’s a look at the free agents the Cardinals have.

3B Nolan Arenado — $35 million player option
IF Matt Carpenter — $18.5 million club option
RP Andrew Miller
SP Carlos Martinez — $17 million club option
SP J.A. Happ
SP Jon Lester
RP T.J. McFarland
SP Wade LeBlanc
RP Luis Garcia
RP Daniel Poncedeleon

Arenado has already said he’s not opting out, which isn’t surprising. Dating back to the spring, it has been a foregone conclusion Carpenter will not be back on that bloated option, if he’s back at all. Nothing he did during the season (.169, three home runs, 21 RBI in 207 at-bats) changed that. Martinez posted a 6.95 ERA in 16 starts and had his season shortened by a thumb injury in July, so the Cardinals are certainly not committing $17 million to him next season.

The Cardinals’ current $151 million projected payroll for 2022 (via Spotrac) includes the $35.5 million total in option decisions on Carpenter and Martinez. Arbitration raises will take over some of that money when they decline those options, but using 2021’s payroll just shy of $169 million as a bar there should be money to spend.

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