St. Louis Cardinals: Cardinals continue adding pitching depth

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 10: Yadier Molina
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 10: Yadier Molina /

 The St. Louis Cardinals announced a signing on Monday in the way of another arm. This signing continues the additions to the organization’s pitching depth.

The catching theme this offseason for the St. Louis Cardinals has been adding pitching depth to what was already a fairly deep organization. In the wake of acquiring Marcel Ozuna while losing very little in the way of pitchers, the Cardinals seem to either be on the path to stockpiling or on the path to something even bigger.

Many rumors have swirled that the St. Louis Cardinals are the assumed landing spot for Jake Arrieta and time will tell if those things are true. Today’s news of another pitcher signed does nothing to shake these rumors… or does it?

Before I start prognosticating whether the St. Louis Cardinals are building prospects for a trade or not, let’s look at the actual acquisition.

The Cardinals announced on Monday, January 29, the signing of Nestor Molina. Molina is a right-handed starting pitcher from Venezuela. He is not related to his could-be battery mate, Yadier Molina (at least no relation that can be immediately found). It will be incredible, however, to hear Mike Shannon bumble over the Molina-to-Molina battery!

Nestor has yet to appear in any MLB level game but has posted impressive numbers internationally. Across six seasons in the foreign-level play, Molina posted a 3.29 ERA having pitched in 580.2 innings. In these six seasons he accumulated a 1.288 WHIP and amassed 416 strikeouts.

In minor league play (in the Toronto, Chicago White Sox, and San Francisco Giants organizations), Molina posted a 3.21 ERA having pitched in 538.1 innings across nine seasons. In these he earned a 1.204 WHIP with 455 strikeouts.

Here is a year-by-year look at Nestor’s numbers:

Register Pitching
200718-0.9Blue Jays 2DOSLFRkTOR000.000.001010001.0000010000031.0000.
2008190.1Blue Jays 2DOSLFRkTOR41.8000.961.452001700437.13064150270021470.9387.
200920-0.52 Teams2 LgsRk-A-TOR31.7501.672.30172500143.040118150381121711.0478.
200920-0.4Blue JaysGULFRkTOR301.0001.691.93152500137.13187040321111430.9387.
201021-0.72 Teams2 LgsA-A+TOR82.8003.113.893921300481.07135284201640023291.1237.
201122-1.22 Teams2 LgsA+-AATOR123.8002.212.6926231000130.1114393281601481155120.9977.
201122-2.6New HampshireELAATOR201.0000.410.8255000022.0122102033012800.6364.90.00.813.516.50
201223-0.92 Teams2 LgsAA-AAACHW611.3534.554.6923220000126.216566649270882225531.51611.
2013240.02 Teams2 LgsAA-RkCHW11.5004.355.72195200139.14425192111312231721.39810.
201627-1.63 Teams2 LgsFgW-AAA127.6324.034.6132290000156.11668070136131069046811.4529.
2017-1828-0.62 Teams2 LgsAAA-FgW2212.6472.903.2344440300251.02399081146711881211110281.2198.
Minors (9 seasons)Minors4323.6523.213.8519357610017538.15382301923411084551172022261.2049.
Foreign (6 seasons)Foreign4931.6133.293.661439611302580.25802362123616884162732224131.2889.
All Levels (11 Seasons)9959.6273.243.723531707240191223.01226506440752961694246114250711.2449.
AAA (2 seasons)Foreign197.7313.043.4842400300245.22339583187441951411110271.2508.
AA (5 seasons)Minors1815.5453.974.66923324008260.228613511518647205961111141.3439.
A+ (2 seasons)Minors103.7692.563.2823182000112.2109413281401181034521.0928.
Rk (2 seasons)Minors301.0001.561.79173500140.13187040341111520.8686.
FgW (6 seasons)Foreign3024.5563.473.791015611002335.0347141129189442211321113861.3169.
FRk (2 seasons)Minors41.8000.941.412101800438.13064160270021500.9397.

His most recent year- in the Mexican League in 2017- showed impressive stats urging the St. Louis Cardinals to snag this free agent to a minor league deal. His 1.89 ERA may provide insurance for the rotation. Adding to that, his 12-3 record in 23 starts (152.2 innings) could be the reason behind the Cardinals action.

Should Nestor show that he has the chops to play in the majors during spring training, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him usurp the likes of Adam Wainwright (who pitched 123.1 innings in 2017 to a 12-5 record), Luke Weaver (who pitched only 60.1 innings in 2017 to a 7-2 record), or Miles Mikolas (who pitched 188 innings in 2017 (foreign league) to a 14-8 record).

See the reasoning behind this move? I certainly do. And, should Nestor show that he needs additional work, then his minor league contract will allow him to get his sea legs in Memphis before replacing a starter or fortifying the bullpen for the St. Louis Cardinals.

More from Redbird Rants

Back to my prognosticating… So the St. Louis Cardinals now have great depth of pitching: Austin Gomber, Dakota Hudson, Jack Flaherty, and now Molina. The St. Louis Cardinals also have a few question marks in the starting rotation: Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Weaver, Mikolas, and (potentially) Alex Reyes. Is the time ripe to go after a big starter?

Enter then the thoughts of Arrieta. While a free agent, and thus not necessitating the movement of any prospects, adding Arrieta would provide fear and strength in the rotation and would- likely- eliminate one of the question marks listed above. Would a move like this allow the St. Louis Cardinals to utilize their pitching depth for another impact bat?

I simply do not see the continued additions of arms as anything other than preemptive moves for something larger to come. I’m not sure that something will come before the 2018 season starts, but my gut tells me that the St. Louis Cardinals are prepare for the need to replace starters during the 2018 season, trade before the season for an infielder/impact bat, and/or trade at the deadline.

Next: Are the Cardinals trapped in the slow offseason?

The bodies are adding up. I like this addition but I’ll like it even more should the St. Louis Cardinals use this added depth to make additional moves. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for any other updates that might come from our beloved birds on the bat.