We are one week away from the MLB Winter Meetings, and the St. Louis Cardinals have already come firing out the gate, signing three starting pitchers to shore up the rotation that was such a problem for the team last season. Officially, they acquired two-inning eaters in former Cardinal Lance Lynn and 15-win winner Kyle Gibson along with 2023 Cy Young runner-up Sonny Gray.
Lynn and Gibson are coming off bad seasons. Lynn pitched to a 5.73 ERA in 183.2 innings, and Gibson with a 4.73 ERA in 192 innings. Not pretty at first glance, but when you see the combined likes of Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Jake Woodford, and Jack Flaherty throwing 340 combined innings with a 5.70 ERA for the birds on the bat last year, and then look at Gibson and Lynn who combined for 375.2 innings with a 5.23 ERA. That’s technically an improvement, even if it doesn’t look like it. Those boys eat innings, and when you can get better results out of two arms instead of four arms, you’ll always take that result.
Gray, however, is a significant step above Lynn and Gibson. Gray pitched to the tune of a 2.79 ERA in 182 innings, finishing behind Gerrit Cole of the Yankees for the American League Cy Young Award. Yeah, that’ll play in the Lou.
Contract-wise, Lance Lynn is on a one-year 10 million dollar contract while Kyle Gibson is on a one-year 12 million dollar contract, both having club options for 2025. If they do good we can bring them back. If they do badly (or retire) as Lynn and Gibson are both 36 years old, the Cardinals would have reason to cut bait
Gray, on the other hand, is just slightly younger, being 34 years old, but is on a much larger contract, getting three years and 70 million dollars, with a full no-trade clause and a club option for a possible fourth year allowing Gray to earn up to 100 million. For currently being the Cards ace, that’s a really good contract, but are the Cardinals done?
All signs point to no, the Cardinals' new focus is bringing in a few bullpen arms to solidify a rather weak pen and to explore the trade market for, you guessed it- more pitching.
With the Cardinals front office shopping around Steven Matz, who’s entering year three of his four-year, 48 million-dollar deal, it's possible to see him moved shortly to open up a rotation spot for a free agent like Blake Snell or Yoshinobu Yamamoto or the more likely route of a trade for a Tyler Glasnow, Dylan Cease or Shane Bieber.
The Cardinals have the farm system to trade for an Ace along with an excess of outfield pieces like Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neil (who I very much see going to Cleveland if the Cardinals decide to trade for Bieber), and Alec Burleson along with possibly moving one of Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman, and Brendan Donovan.
Mozeliak is just getting started with his moves. 2023 was an outlier season that he didn’t want to see happen for a long time. Only time can tell if this team will be competing for championship No. 12 next season or not.
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