St. Louis Cardinals: Zimmermann, Cueto Set the Pace


The St. Louis Cardinals now know how much they’ll have to pay for a free agent starter. Have they been priced out of the market?

The Hot Stove got a little hotter over the weekend with action on two top-tier free agent starters. And both situations will have an impact on the St. Louis Cardinals’ search for pitching help.

Shortly after Jordan Zimmermann agreed to a 5-year, $110 million deal with the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, we got this from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

Let’s remember a few things about these two pitchers:

Zimmermann is coming of the worst season of his 7-year career, and yet the 5-year deal the Tigers gave him is

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

almost universally seen as a good move. Heck, even I think so. Still, it makes you wonder about the pitching market when everyone lauds an exorbitant contract given to a guy who just gave up a career-high 24 gopher balls. At least he’ll be pitching his home games in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the Major Leagues.

  • Cueto, meanwhile, is not the picture of consistency. There’s no doubt he can be brilliant. He won 20 games and finished second in Cy Young voting in 2014. But the year before he missed most of the season due to injury. And this past season, he had his ups and downs in Cincinnati, then dealt with this. And after the Royals acquired him, the right-hander was anything but lights out. Funny how a strong postseason performance can smooth all that over. Incidentally, Cueto is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 20 career starts against the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Thanks to Zimmermann, who didn’t have the advantage of joining free agency after pitching his team to a World Series title, Cueto is going to get his and then some — maybe even from the St. Louis Cardinals, although no rumors have surfaced about that. But he’ll be expensive. Very expensive.

    So will the two marquee starters, Zack Greinke and David Price.

    Greinke appears to be toying with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team he has said he wants to rejoin. Speculation has leaked, via CBS Sports’ John Heyman, that the arch rival San Francisco Giants are emerging as a favorite to land the right-hander, who posted a Major-League-best 1.66 ERA in 2015. All this means is that the Dodgers will pay more in the end. Here’s more on that. 

    Price’s camp has been silent, but all signs point to the prized left-hander signing with the Boston Red Sox. This, from a Fox Sports report last week:

    "One American League general manager told Peter Gammons this week that he believes the Red Sox will offer Price $30 million to $40 million more than any other team. Gammons also said he has spoken to at least six GMs who agree with the reports that Boston plans to go “all out” in an attempt to sign Price."

    Basically, signing Price seems to be new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski’s life mission. The two already have a good working relationship from when they were in Detroit. A reunion feels like an inevitability now.

    So where does this leave the St. Louis Cardinals? Laying comfortably under the radar. Surely general manager John Mozeliak already has a few things in motion that no one knows about. Do I sense a multi-player trade with the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller and Freddie Freeman? Not really. But you never know. Stay tuned.