Joe Robbins/Getty Images
November 21, 2017

The beauty of the Cardinals’ perennially productive farm system is that it inspires hope, even when things don’t go as well as hoped at the major league level. So it was in 2017, with outfielder Tommy Pham enjoying a huge breakout season, and homegrown right-hander Luke Weaver showing flashes of ace potential.

The Cards will need Weaver, 22-year-old righty Jack Flaherty, and other young arms to step up in 2018, with Mike Leake gone and Lance Lynn likely on his way out. Elite pitching prospect Alex Reyes could also play a major role in a Cardinals rebound, though his first stop once back from Tommy John surgery might be the bullpen. More ambitious moves could also be afoot. The Cardinals have lusted after All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson in a possible blockbuster trade. If they can’t pry the former MVP loose from Toronto, look for always creative and aggressive GM John Mozeliak to turn over a bunch more rocks for a team that might be just one impact acquisition away from a return to the playoffs.

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