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#pounditTuesday, June 25, 2024

Cardinals making significant change amid poor start to season

Willson Contreras in his Cardinals uniform

Mar 14, 2023; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras (40) walks in the third inning against the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals are making a major change amid their poor start to the season.

The Cardinals entered play on Saturday 10-23, which is one of the worst starts in franchise history. A week and a half ago, they decided to demote prospect Jordan Walker, who was batting a respectable .274.

On Saturday, the Cardinals called up catcher Tres Barrera from the minor leagues, which gives them three catchers on their active roster. But they won’t plan to use one of those players at catcher.

The Cardinals are planning to move big free agent signing Willson Contreras to corner outfield and designated hitter over the next few weeks.

Backup Andrew Knizner will now become the starting catcher as Contreras moves away from behind the dish.

Contreras doesn’t seem too thrilled to move away from catcher.

This is a big deal.

Contreras was signed to a 5-year, $87.5 million contract over the offseason. He had spent his entire career with the Cubs, establishing himself as an offensive threat and making three All-Star teams.

While Contreras’ offensive production is a major plus at catcher, his numbers would be much less impressive compared to other designated hitters and corner outfielders. Contreras is a career .257 hitter with an .807 OPS. Those are good numbers — and very strong for a catcher — but they don’t stand out for a DH.

Not only does Contreras lose value playing somewhere else, but moving him also creates a logjam at many positions for the Cardinals.

If having Knizner and Barrera catch rather than Contreras makes a big difference to the Cardinals’ pitching, St. Louis will live with it. But the team won’t have the nice bat behind home plate they thought they were getting when they signed Contreras in free agency.

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