No. 4 – Carlos Villanueva
Former Cardinal pitcher Carlos Villanueva could return to his old job here back in St. Louis. Villanueva was used in 2015 as the Cardinals long reliever with the ability to be an emergency starter. He saw a lot of success, posting a career best 2.95 ERA in 35 games.
Villanueva found himself in San Diego with former Cardinal Jon Jay and the Padres for the 2016 season. He didn’t find the same success he had in St. Louis and saw his ERA climb to 5.96 while pitching in 51 games. Now, he remains a free agent looking for a similar opportunity to the one the Cardinals and Padres offered him.
Villanueva has always been a long relief option that could also start in emergency situations and that is exactly what the St. Louis Cardinals could use here. He won’t be a starter over guys like Michael Wacha or Luke Weaver but he would give the Cardinals an option if a handful of things go wrong.
He would also fill that role out of the bullpen that he is so familiar with. Villanueva would be able to eat innings if a starter struggles and also be an extra arm at Mike Matheny‘s disposal. The 33-year old reliever isn’t a set-up man or closer but for any innings before the 7th, he could be quite useful.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Carlos Villanueva had success back in 2015 and could find a reunion to be mutually beneficial. Villanueva would be a cheap, familiar option that wouldn’t compromise the roster or clubhouse. He also wouldn’t stand in the way of a young pitcher’s development or opportunity.