St. Louis Cardinals: In a world without Bryce Harper

Mike Girsch, general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals; Bill DeWitt Jr., managing partner and chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals; John Mozeliak, President of Baseball Operations of the St. Louis Cardinals and Mike Schildt, interim manager of the St. Louis Cardinals addressing a change in the manager during a press conference prior to a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on July 15, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Mike Girsch, general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals; Bill DeWitt Jr., managing partner and chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals; John Mozeliak, President of Baseball Operations of the St. Louis Cardinals and Mike Schildt, interim manager of the St. Louis Cardinals addressing a change in the manager during a press conference prior to a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on July 15, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 16: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 16, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 16: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 16, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

If the St. Louis Cardinals don’t sign Harper, a pivot move would be to strengthen the starting pitching staff with Dallas Keuchel.

You can never have enough pitchers. This lesson is learned every year by teams, and the St. Louis Cardinals are never an exception. Coming into 2018, it was conceivable to say the Cardinals had a deep starting pitcher staff even with Miles Mikolas being a question mark. With injuries accross the board, the Cardinals had 11 different pitchers make starts in 2018 and the biggest question mark coming into the season made the most starts of anyone.

Entering the 2019 season, the only player who started games for the Cardinals who won’t be on the team anymore is Luke Weaver, who was part of the deal for Goldschmidt. Right now, the Cardinals’ starting rotation going into 2019 figures to be Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright. This assumes that the Cardinals are moving Martinez back to the starting rotation.

Based off of last season’s results, I am not overly bullish on this rotation. If Wainwright pitches like he did in September, I’m fine with him in the rotation. If everyone else stays healthy, again, I’m fine with the rotation. The problem is that that is pretty much guaranteed to not happen perfectly. Outside of those first five, the Cardinals still have Austin Gomber, Daniel Ponce de Leon (he officially changed it from Poncedeleon), John Gant, Dakota Hudson and another question mark in Alex Reyes.

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As far as from the minor leagues, they do have Ryan Helsley and Genesis Cabrera coming up fast from the minors. Of all those seven players, some will for sure be needed in the bullpen, and some will stay in the minors, but they will all probably play a role at the major league level in 2019.

These options have potential, but it would be a lot better for the team to go after a more proven commodity that lets them have flexibility in the rotation and bullpen. Dallas Keuchel is the perfect option. Signing Keuchel would cost a draft pick and money, but no players. The 30-year-old Keuchel is coming off a year in which he posted a 3.74 ERA over 34 starts with the Astros.

Keuchel is a two time All-Star who also has four gold gloves on his shelf as a starting pitcher. In his career, Keuchel has flashed ace-potential at times, and even finished top five in the MVP voting in 2015 in a year where he also won the Cy Young award. At this point in his career, he is probably closer to the 108 ERA+ pitcher he was last year than the 132 or 157 ERA+ he has put up in past years.

This is not a bad thing though as Keuchel could join the Cardinals pitching staff as the third or fourth best pitcher that adds some stability and a more veteran presence as a pitcher who has Cy Young and playoff history. As a 30-year-old, Keuchel is likely to command more than J.A. Happ‘s two year, $34M deal with the Yankees but shouldn’t approach Patrick Corbin‘s six year, $140M deal.

I am not an expert by any means, but in my opinion, four years for about $80M would be my offer.  Again I may be way off but that’s what I would offer as that would be $20M a year which is close to Corbin’s $23.3M and a good jump over Happ’s $17M a year.

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