While it is admitted that the St. Louis Cardinals likely do not need another starter, a cheap pick up makes plenty of sense.
Will Alex Reyes be in the rotation right off of Tommy John surgery or will he perform better in the pen? Will Wainwright return to his starting form or will the pen be a more welcoming home? Will Jack Flaherty be a reliable solution as a starter?
These questions will need answering and could find answers in the likes of Nolasco as discussed in the previous slide but they might also be answered through yet another starter pick up thanks to a failed vesting option. This suggested solution comes way of Seattle to whom the St. Louis Cardinals “gifted” Mike Leake in 2017.
Enter the idea of Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma, according to MLBTR, needed 125 innings pitched to vest his $15MM option but his DL stint this season has prevented this achievement. This failed vesting provides that the Mariners have two options: a $10MM option or a $1MM buyout. It is assumed that the M’s will opt for the latter.
Iwakuma’s best year was in 2013 when he appeared in 219.2 innings and posted a 2.66 ERA. Since then, however, Iwakuma has battled shoulder inflammation that has aided a ballooning in his ERA. This very inflammation is what has kept him from earning his vesting option in 2017.
While Nolasco would bring a 12-year career, Iwakuma would bring stronger promise from a younger arm who might simply need a new start. Too bad Dave Duncan is no longer with the St. Louis Cardinals as he was famous for reclamation cases like this.
Could the Cardinals get lucky with a cheap Iwakuma option? I think it would be worth the shot.