St. Louis Cardinals: Free Agent Pitchers Who Make Sense

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Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the St. Louis Cardinals signed a full-time free agent starting pitcher to an offseason contract, Brad Penny agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract for the 2010 campaign.

Perhaps the Penny signing (and ensuing disaster) launched the movement through which the St. Louis Cardinals have consistently pushed pitchers in their own farm system to take on larger roles, rather than acquiring veteran starting pitchers in the offseason. But considering some of the Chicago Cubs’ recent additions, it could be time for a different response from the Cardinals.

The rotation could already be affected if the Cardinals monitor the workload of young starters like Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha. Add that to the fact that questions marks about the health of  veterans Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia, it’s hard to predict success without a consistent anchor in the rotation.

Starting every fifth day comes with a considerably large load of responsibility, especially since the Cardinals missed out on several top-tier starters from this year’s free agent class. In order to maintain a similar level of consistency from last year, the Cardinals should shift focus to one of four plausible starting pitchers remaining on the market.

Next: Mike Leake