Cardinals’ Wilson Contreras Moves to DH, Outfielder: What That Means for His Playing Time

Wilson Contreras, who the Cardinals signed to a five-year, $87.5 million deal over the next two weeks, will not be picked up by St. Louis for the next two weeks. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Andrew Knizner is slated to handle the starting catcher duties, while Contreras will be used as a designated hitter and outfielder.
  • The team made a series of roster moves on Saturday, including calling up catcher Tres Barrera from Triple-A Memphis.
  • St. Louis also activated longtime pitcher Adam Wainwright, who made his debut in the final season of his career against the Tigers. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits over five innings pitched, and struck out five batters in St. Louis’ 6-5 loss.

the athleteInstant Analysis:

What does Barrera call Contreras mean?

When the Cardinals signed Contreras out of season, they did so with the argument that he would be the primary catcher. However, with the Cardinals teetering and the staff struggling, manager Oli Marmol and the front office came to the conclusion that the rotation could benefit from some familiarity. Knizner will now catch the bulk of starts, with Barrera serving as a backup catcher.

The Cardinals want to keep Contreras in the daily lineup, as he has one of the highest OPS marks on the team (. 782). To achieve this, St. Louis Contreras would have served as the team’s designated hitter. The Cardinals will also play Contreras in the stadium. He played 35 games in the outfield over his seven-year career, 32 of them in left field.

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“We’ve had a lot of conversations about it,” Marmol said. “This allows some familiarity with our men, which I think will help, especially in the state we are in.

“There are some things and ways that we’re working that Wilson is still learning and learning about. It’s tough coming from a different organization and learning everything. We have an internal strategy to help with that, which will start moving in that direction over the next several weeks.”

Part of the reason Contreras signed with St. Louis was because he wanted to be a full-time catcher. The Cardinals also identified it as an important trait when they were looking for one over the course of the season. Now, St. Louis appears to have changed course.

“It’s hard, but I’m an employee,” Contreras said. “I know my primary position is to catch, but if they want me to increase my DH, I can only do anything about it by being the best hitter I can be.”

“One thing I want to make clear is that we are not going to lose ball games because of Wilson Contreras,” Marmol added. “This is a guy who’s been in an amazing amount of work to be able to become more familiar with one, our shooters, and also how we do things. He’ll be a fair amount going forward, and then have a strategy for what that looks like next.” – Woo

How will the Cardinals balance Contreras’ playing time?

The Cardinals already have a crowded outdoor arena. IL 15’s Tyler O’Neal landed a left lower back strain Friday, but St. Louis still has to manage consistent playing time for Dylan Carlson, Lars Nutbar, Alec Burleson and Juan Yepez. The impasse on the court had already played a role in Jordan Walker’s prospective option to Triple A. Moving Contreras to a cornerback spot would only further complicate the matter.

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Seeing a significant cast as the designated hitter contreras also complicates matters for Nolan Gorman, who leads the Cardinals by seven runs this season. Gorman could move to second base while Contreras DHs, but that would leave one spot for Tommy Edman, Brendan Donovan and Paul DeJong.

At a worse National League 10-23, the Cardinals are in no position to remain in the doldrums. But from a short perspective, moving contreras from behind the plate only muddies up the playing time for the rest of the crew. – Woo

background story

Barrera, 28, will make his first appearance with the Cardinals after signing with the team this offseason. In 12 games with Memphis this year, he hit . 255 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. The roster moves come as the Cardinals look to turn around early-season shortcomings. The team is 10-23 heading into Saturday, with the most losses in the National League.

Wainwright, who opened the season over IL after suffering a groin strain in March, has made 457 career appearances with the Cardinals since debuting with the team in 2005. His 195 wins are the third most in franchise history and his 2,147 strikeouts are second most. Wainwright announced in October, when he signed a one-year extension, that 2023 would be his final season.

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(Photo: Jim Rasul/USA Today)

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