Cardinals signing 3-time All-Star Brandon Crawford, per sources: Why St. Louis made the move now

The St. Louis Cardinals are signing three-time All-Star Brandon Crawford, league sources said.

Crawford, 37, is expected to serve as a backup shortstop behind 21-year-old rookie Masyn Winn while the team awaits further clarity on Tommy Edman’s recovery from wrist surgery. The deal is pending a physical.

The Cardinals had been actively monitoring the backup infielder market over the course of the month with Edman’s status for Opening Day unclear. Edman, who was slated to be the team’s starting centerfielder but would fill in at shortstop when needed, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist in October. He has yet to be cleared to take live swings and there is no current timetable for when he could be cleared for game action. With Edman sidelined indefinitely, the Cardinals were left scrambling for viable depth options at shortstop after Winn.

Crawford had previously spent all 13 years of his major-league career with the San Francisco Giants, and played a key role in the team’s 2012 and 2014 World Series championships. Crawford was an All-Star in 2021, but his performance began to decline in 2022. He appeared in just 93 games last season due to various injuries and posted a .194/.273/.314 line.

Why sign a reserve shortstop now?

The reserve infield market has picked up speed over the last several days, with Tim Anderson signing a one-year, $5 million contract with the Miami Marlins on Saturday, and Amed Rosario signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays last week. On Monday morning, Nick Ahmed had reportedly reached a minor-league deal with the Giants, and by Monday afternoon, Kiké Hernández had reached an agreement to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While there is still a month of spring games remaining, the Cardinals couldn’t afford to wait out a rapidly-changing market and risk missing out on needed shortstop depth. Winn is still expected to be the frontrunner for the starting shortstop position, but having an experienced veteran in Crawford backing him up should alleviate some pressure.

What does this mean for Edman?

Edman’s progression continues to be heavily monitored as he works through his hitting program. Manager Oli Marmol said Tuesday the switch-hitting Edman was progressing quicker through his left swing than his right swing. The next step is to make sure both swings are caught up before Edman can progress to coach-pitched batting practice.

“It’s day to day,” Marmol said. “There are certain days (Edman’s wrist) feels really good, and certain days where it doesn’t feel as great, and then the next day it feels good. So we have to take it day by day right now, until we get a little bit better rhythm.”

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(Photo: Brandon Vallance / Getty Images)

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