St. Louis Cardinals: DON’T Re-sign Lance Lynn
By Jason Grose
On the heels of 12 wins and a 3.03 ERA, a lot of fans think the St. Louis Cardinals should re-sign free agent Lance Lynn. I say let him walk.
Lance Lynn is a free agent. He recently declined a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals. Lynn has said he would welcome an opportunity to return to the Cardinals on a multi-year deal. According to Jeff Todd, Lynn should get somewhere in the range of a four-year deal worth around $60 million.
I think that is light and wouldn’t be surprised to see him and his agent seek a contract worth approximately $80 million. Is Lance Lynn worth $20+ million per year? Many fans want the Cardinals to re-sign him, and when you look at some of his statistics, it would be hard to argue with them.
For his career, he is 72-47 with a 3.43 ERA, and he’s thrown at least 175 innings in each full year that he’s been healthy. He is certainly a reliable pitcher…right now. On the surface, he looks like a pitcher worth four-years and $60 million to be a team’s #2 or #3 starter.
But, let’s take a look at some stats that are a little worrisome.
His average fastball velocity is on a three-year decline. That is even factoring in the two years before his Tommy John surgery. For a pitcher who throws about 78% fastballs for his career, that is cause for concern.
Now, some might attribute the decline in velocity in 2017 to the lingering effects of surgery. It might jump up a tick in 2018. But, he will be 31 in the 2018 season. The velocoity is not going to go back to the numbers from early in his career.
Lynn gave up 1.3 home runs per nine innings last year, good for 18th-worst in Major League Baseball. He had the best BABIP in all of baseball last season at .244. This number made his season look a lot better than it really was. His career for this category is .297. This tells us a lot more balls that opponents put in play last year were hit right at someone.
His FIP (fielding independent pitching) was 4.82, 6th-worst in baseball. The highest mark of his career before that was 3.49 in 2012. This stat essentially measures all things where a play does not need to be made – home runs, walks, HBPs, and strikeouts.
So in simple terms, Lynn was bad at things he can directly control himself: giving up home runs; walking and hitting people; and striking out batters.
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His walks per nine were up, and his strikeouts per nine were down. All of these things lead Depth Charts and Steamer to predict a 9-9 record with a 4.67 ERA in 2018. Yikes. That is not worth $15 million.
Furthermore, why draft and develop young talent if they never get a shot?! The St. Louis Cardinals have Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, Sandy Alcantara, and Dakota Hudson waiting in the wings.
One or two of them will most likely get traded (hopefully in a deal for Giancarlo Stanton), so the pitching rotation might look something like this: Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, and any combination of two of the younger guys mentioned above.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the St. Louis Cardinals bring in someone like Alex Cobb to supplement the staff either, like Ryan Eisenhauer mentions here.
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I will miss Lynn’s interviews and competitiveness. But, we’ll get a compensation pick for Lynn. Let him walk and the next team he plays for can deal with his declining career. Let’s see what some of these young former 1st-rounders can do.