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The Cardinals need pitching here are 5 Free Agents they should look at.

Updated: Oct 3, 2023


This past season has not gone the way it was envisioned. While there were many apparent breakdowns, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has been clear that addressing the starting rotation will be the main priority. He stated they would be looking to bring in three starting pitchers through either Free Agency or trade. Now, bear in mind that the main reason St. Louis is in this situation with the rotation is the lack of attention paid to the rotation the past three seasons. The last significant addition to the rotation (in the off-season) would be Miles Mikolas in 2018, although at the time, it didn't feel like he was an 18-game winner in 2018. The next off-season addition was Kwang Hyun Kim in 2020, followed by Steven Matz in 2022. Now, midseason deals in 2021 that brought in John Lester and A.J. Happ helped the Redbirds into the playoffs. Likewise, last year, Mozeliak went shopping midseason again, snagging Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery, who helped St. Louis into the playoffs. While that has born fruit in the past, is not a sustainable way to maintain a rotation. The Front office seems content to hope for guys to have a better year than the year before or for guys to recover from injuries and any shortcomings they can address at the deadline. Not So this year!


This led to many of the young farmhands being called probably earlier than they should. This is something that needs to stop. Having good young arms is a blessing, to be sure, but to count on those arms to carry your rotation is a fool's foley. So, If Mo is serious about bringing in three new starters, here are five Free Agents I think they should look hard at.


Blake Snell byb Mark J. Terrill via AP

Blake Snell LH, (30) 2023 stats 14-9 2.23 ERA, 1.195 WHIP, 3.48 FIP 174 innings in 31 games. Sneel has held opposing hitters consistently below the Medoza line. He has a very high 11.7 K/9 with a 58% Strikeout rate. These are all things that John Mozeliak wants in a starter. Snell could be looking at a 4-year-100 million dollar deal which would make him the largest Free Agent in Cardinal history. But he would easily be the top man in the rotation.



Yoshinobu Yamamoto via NPB

Yoshinobu Yamamoto RH (25) 2023(Japan) 15-6 1.26 ERA, 0.885 WHIP, and an incredible 85% Strikeout rate (155 Ks-26 BBs) Yamamoto plays for the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese league. He has a four-pitch Arsenal (Fastball at 97 MPH, a Curve, Cutter, and Splitter). Scouts have tabbed Yamamoto as ahead of Kodia Senga on the 20-80 grade scale. Senga signed a 5 year, $75 million dollar deal with the Mets. So that gives some indication of where Yamamoto will fall. There is also the one-time posting fee to consider, which would be 20% of the first $25 million of the contract, then 17.5% of the next $25 million, and 15% on anything after that! With Senga getting $75M for 4 years, look for Yamamoto's to be higher, possibly in the 5-year - $125 Million dollar range. Look for this posting fee to be near $20 million. Which could be waters the Cardinals don't want to sail into. But they should at least check out the Harbour.



Sonny Gray by Juilo Cortez via AP

Sonny Gray RH, (33) Gray, an 11-year veteran, has a lifetime ERA of 3.47, a lifetime Fip of 3.58 and a lifetime whip of 1.205. This year, he is 8-8 with a 2.80 ERA, 2.85 Fip, and a 1.150 WHIP. He is a three-time All-Star and at the end of a 5 year, $50 million dollar contract. He is considered by many to be a #3 starting pitcher. I would say more of a solid #2 and could be #1 on many staff. Spotrac has his market value of $18.9 Million, and at age 33, a long-term deal is probably not there. I think Minnesota will certainly throw a QO his way, but Other teams might be willing to go 3 years at $58-$60 Million, Which could be in the Cardinal Wheelhouse house, depending on who else they are targeting or who else they get.


Aaron Nola by Matt Slocumb via AP

Aaron Nola RH (30) Nola was someone I thought the Cardinals should have targeted last year. This year, he has not looked like a three-time Cy Young candidate this year with a 4.47 ERA and a 4.08 Fip, but he is still sporting a decent WHIP of 1.171 and striking out 9 hitters per game. He will definitely be close, if not over 200 Innings pitched this year for the second year in a row. Over his career, he has had some inconsistency. Especially coming out of the Covid year in 2020. Spotrac has him listed as the #2 starter in the $24 Mil AAV range, looking at a 6-year deal. Close to $150 MIllion. I don't see that. Given his recent inconsistency and that he will be 32 in June, I think it is highly more likely that he will be more in the 4-5 year $75-$100 Million dollar range and more in the #3 starter role depending on the team.



Jordan Montgomery via USA Today

Jordan Mongomery LH (30), The current Texas Rangers and former Cardinal, I think, is a valuable left-hander to have in your rotation. If you can, sign a Blake Snell as your #1 and the Monty as your #2, or break them upon and throw Mile Mikolas as your #2. (Unless, of course, you can sign Sonny Gray to be your #2). Monty makes a ton of sense, as he was the Cards Strongest pitcher in the rotation with a 3.42 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and a respectable 1.2 WHIP. He may not be the big strikeout guy they are looking for at only 8.4 for his career, but still, he is an arm you can put out every five days and know what you are getting. He will also be one of the cheaper options at somewhere near 4/5-years at $75-$95 Million.


There are others who could help, of course, like Eduardo Rodrigues from Detroit, Tyler Mahle from the Twins, and Marcus Stroman from the Chicago Cubs. Maybe you kick the tires on Alex Cobb, Mike Clevinger, or Luis Severino. In my pods and articles, I know I have mentioned Luis Urias, but with his current troubles, I think teams will steer clear of him, at least for big money anyway.


Now, how many of these pitchers will the Cardinals target? That is anyone's guess. For me, you have to at least make a stab at Yamamoto and should throw all in on Snell. Just those two additions would be more than enough to make the 2024 rotation at pennant contender. How far are MO and the front office willing to go? Let's say I am not very optimistic, but we shall see.


If you like my articles, check out my podcasts, Talking Sports on the Bleachers and the NCAA Report that I do with Russ Robinson. They can be found right here at gatewaycitysports.com

Please feel free to leave comments as always. Have fun, stay safe, and I will see you again soon.

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