St. Louis Cardinals make curious decision not re-signing Luis Garcia
St. Louis Cardinals make curious decision not re-signing Luis Garcia, but here’s why they decided to let him go.
After signing left-hander Steven Matz, the St. Louis Cardinals turned their attention to addressing the bullpen. They had many calls out to free agents and, given their need for depth, could use as many as two additional arms in the late innings.
But in a curious move, they let reliever Luis Garcia leave for the San Diego Padres on a two-year, $7 million deal, as FanSided first reported.
Garcia, 34, has always had talent. It’s why he’s been in the majors for nine seasons, but he finally put it together with the Cardinals last season. He was one of their most dependable relievers last season, posting a 3.24 ERA and a 34/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 appearances, and seemed like an option the team would want to build around in 2022 and in future seasons.
Instead, the Cardinals let him go on a contract that is very reasonable. But why? There are two possibilities. One, the Cardinals didn’t want to pay a 34-year-old reliever coming off a breakout season $3.5 million per season. Two, Garcia wanted an opportunity for late inning appearances and a chance to potentially close games, something the Padres will be able to offer him.
It leaves the Cardinals bullpen in a tough position with baseball now in its first lockout in 27 years. Their bullpen already lacked depth and, without Garcia, puts immediate pressure on president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to find bullpen help when the lockout is over.
The good news for Mozeliak, however, is that there will be no shortage of options. The options include Joe Kelly, Ryan Tepera and Robert Gsellman, among others, with Kelly and Tepera likely to command deals more lucrative than Garcia’s $7 million deal in San Diego.
The Cardinals will be able to afford it. They have money to spend and, in all likelihood, will be more willing to open their wallets for them since they have more sustainable periods of success in the majors.
But losing Garcia places more pressure on the front office to get those deals done, especially since he commanded a deal worth only $3.5 million per year.