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Cardinals agree to contract terms with former Giants’ Gold Glover as Plan-B at shortstop

In search of a backup shortstop due to uncertainty surrounding Tommy Edman’s recovery from wrist surgery, the St. Louis Cardinals turned to the free agent market on Monday, agreeing to a contract with former San Francisco Giants mainstay Brandon Crawford.

Katie Woo of The Athletic first reported the sides had reached a deal, following a morning report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the sides were moving in that direction.

The Cardinals do not comment on free agents until making an official team announcement, which will not come until Crawford passes a physical.

Rookie Masyn Winn is the team’s incumbent starting shortstop, and his path to that role was cleared with Edman’s recovery from a wrist procedure following the season. Edman has not yet been cleared to face live pitching in camp, and manager Oliver Marmol on Monday described some lingering soreness which has dictated the pace of his recovery thus far.

The other two players on the 40-man roster with significant experience at shortstop are Brendan Donovan and José Fermín. Donovan is at the tail end of recovery from his own elbow surgery, and Fermín’s arm strength profiles better at second and third base than at short.

With Winn held out a day due to stiffness in his upper back, the Cardinals have started low level minor leaguers Arquimedes Gamboa and Jeremy Rivas at shortstop in recent days, highlighting the team’s lack of depth at the position at the upper levels.

Crawford, 37, has played his entire career with the Giants. He was a member of the 2012 and 2014 World Series championship teams and has made three all-star teams, most recently in 2021. That season, he finished fourth in voting for the National League’s Most Valuable Player award, securing his fourth gold glove.

His production in recent years has tailed off, posting just a .652 OPS in 2022 and a .587 mark in 2023, though he did hit seven home runs in 320 plate appearances last season. Once a standout defender, he committed 12 errors and posted a -14 defensive runs saved total for the Giants last year as he dealt with a hamstring injury.

The market for depth infielders has been active in the last week, with free agents Amed Rosario (Rays), Nick Ahmed (Giants), Kiké Hernández (Dodgers) and Tim Anderson (Marlins) all agreeing to contracts in recent days. Ahmed in particular seemed a natural fit for the Cardinals, but his agreement in San Francisco left Crawford in search of a new home in a rapidly changing landscape.

This is a developing story that will be updated.