The St. Louis Cardinals first major offseason move was an underwhelming one. John Mozeliak and the Cards front office signed former St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn to a one-year deal with a second-year club option.
Lynn struggled at times last season, giving up home runs in seemingly every start. Much of that can be blamed on the teams around him, but it's clear he's not longer in the prime of his career. Lynn had a 6.47 ERA with the Chicago White Sox, but vastly improved once he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching to a 4.36 ERA in 11 starts.
Some of Lynn's best seasons came with the St. Louis Cardinals early in his career. He made an All-Star team, and never had an ERA over four. A return back to a familiar setting could help Lynn find his groove. However, given Mozeliak's commentary this offseason regarding the Cards need for at least two top-end starting pitchers, Lynn doesn't really qualify. St. Louis needs more, and that starts by bringing several other former Cards back home.
If the Cardinals are looking to build up their rotation from scratch, Jack Flaherty is an intriguing option. Flaherty was traded to the Baltimore Orioles as a rental at the deadline. In Baltimore, he faltered despite a hot start with the O's. Because of those same struggles, Flaherty could likely be had on a similar prove-it deal as Lynn, if not for even less money.
The answer to the Cards pitching woes is not bringing back former pitchers exclusively, however. That much is obvious. However, Flaherty did hint at an eventual St. Louis reunion when he was traded to Baltimore.
"Some of it's not in my control, and we've had our opportunities and our chances -- but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be open to it," Flaherty told Derrick Goold in regards to contract talks. "All these guys here and we know what this team has. Nolan (Arenado) for a couple of more years. Goldy (Paul Goldschmidt) at least one more. You see what the offense can do. So, whatever is going to give me a chance to win, and here they've got the guys to do it."
Flaherty had a 6.75 ERA with Baltimore. He didn't even make the postseason rotation. A return home could do him some good.
Jordan Montgomery is a favorite to sign with the Texas Rangers or Boston Red Sox, but a return to St. Louis should not be ruled out entirely, either. Monty was the Cards ace before they traded him to Texas at the deadline as part of the ultimate rental success story. Montgomery went to Arlington, led the rotation even without Max Scherzer for much of that time, and won a World Series.
However, Texas would like Montgomery back, and they have plenty of money to offer. The Red Sox have been connected to Montgomery since the start of free agency, and you can bet his agency has at least answered the phone. However, there's a reason FanSided MLB insider Robert Murray thought a Cards reunion was on the table late last season:
"Clearly the Cardinals like Montgomery. He was their best pitcher when he was in St. Louis. Yes, they traded him at this past deadline, but there is history of team's trading players and re-signing them...It would not be a surprise to see the Cardinals pursue Montgomery again this winter, and a reunion makes total sense for both sides," Murray wrote.
Who am I to disagree? Montgomery may be out of Mozeliak's price range, but he's worth a meeting.
Did everyone just forget about Michael Wacha or something? While Wacha is clearly a second-tier pitcher in this free-agent market, he's no slouch either. Wacha had an ERA of 3.22 in San Diego last season just a year following an outstanding bounce-back campaign for the Boston Red Sox. He has proven his worth, and Wacha is back.
If the Cards were to offer Wacha a multiyear deal soon before his market heats up, they may be able to sign a mid-rotation starter prior to the start of the winter meetings. What am I missing? As FanSided's Curt Bishop wrote just a few weeks ago, Wacha would be welcomed back in St. Louis.
"Wacha was a fan-favorite in St. Louis, and fans would certainly enjoy seeing him back in Cardinal red if he can continue to pitch the way he has over the past few seasons. Cardinals fans remember him best for his success during the 2013 postseason, and the veteran right-hander is pitching much more like the Cardinals expected him to early in his career," Bishop wrote.
It's in intriguing thought, and one the Cards ought to flirt more with before Wacha becomes one of the better starting pitchers on the market.2023-11-20T23:25:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd