John Mozeliak teased that the St. Louis Cardinals may not be done this winter. Now, it is rumored they are looking at starting pitchers.
It is unclear whether or not it has really set in that the St. Louis Cardinals actually went out and got Nolan Arenado yet. While they did agree to take on a hefty contract, one important stipulation of the deal was that the Rockies are paying all of his $35M he’s owed in 2021.
Because of this, it allows the Cardinals to add Arenado for free this year before taking on money next year when big contracts come off the books. Because of this, John Mozeliak teased during Arenado’s press conference on Tuesday that the team might not be done this winter.
While most fans believed that was in reference to bringing in Yadier Molina for at least one more year, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported Thursday that the Cardinals were dabbling back in the starting pitching market.
All winter, it was reported that the Cardinals liked their depth they had and that starting pitching wouldn’t be on the list of positions they’d look to upgrade. However, whether it was losing Austin Gomber to Colorado or a renewed sense of competition, it looks like they are at least exploring options on the market.
Right now, the rotation would start with Jack Flaherty, Kwang Hyun Kim, Miles Mikolas, Adam Wainwright, and then end with a competition between Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, Daniel Ponce de Leon, and more. While that is a great rotation if every player is healthy, that is no small caveat. Specifically in a year after pitchers threw fewer than 100 innings, starting pitching depth may be what sets the top teams apart.
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Jake Odorizzi graduated from Highland High School less than an hour from St. Louis and has been on the Cardinals’ radar before. The 30-year-old didn’t have a great 2020 season throwing for the Twins, but he’s been able to provide a consistent 150-190 innings over the bulk of his career. He’s no front-end starter, but he’s consistent and could lighten the load.
James Paxton is a little older than Odorizzi but has a stronger track record, even if it comes with injury history. The 32-year-old had some fantastic years with Seattle but has been injured often with the Yankees over the past two seasons.
Taijuan Walker is just 28 and is coming off a very solid season in 2020 but also has a rich injury history. Between 2018 and 2019, he threw under 15.0 total MLB innings.
According to this article from MLBtraderumors.com, Odorizzi is looking for a three-year deal in the $12-$14M range per year and Paxton is looking for $12M a year. While those values fit relatively with the current starting pitching market, I don’t know if I’d be happy giving any of these three that kind of money with the amount of depth the Cardinals have.
If Odorizzi is the top target for the Cards, that is fine. I personally just don’t know if three years at $12-$14M would be a great deal or not. Thankfully, it isn’t up to me to decide.
It remains to be seen if the Cardinals have any interest in the outfield market as that is one of the last offensive places that needs more consistency. Even if the only remaining move is bringing back Molina, the Cardinals are a much better team heading into 2021 than they were in 2020.