The St. Louis Cardinals are “prioritizing” bullpen upgrades, and losing Luis Garcia may actually help them do it.
Baseball has been locked out for 17 days, but that has not stopped the rumor mill from continuing to churn, especially for the St. Louis Cardinals.
They have been linked to relief pitchers, offensive upgrades, as well as starting pitchers even after signing left-hander Steven Matz. But the Cardinals have “prioritized” relief pitching, according to Katie Woo of The Athletic.
This was a priority for the Cardinals, but after losing Luis Garcia to the San Diego Padres, it becomes a glaring hole. It’s possible that they add two relievers, perhaps both high-end arms, depending on how much they spend on starting pitchers and offensive bats.
But it’s clear that they want meaningful upgrades in the late innings, which is why they have been linked to Joe Kelly and Ryan Tepera. Both will command multi-year contracts worth at least $6 million annually, which is something the Cardinals will be able to afford.
You may disagree with that last sentence, especially after the Cardinals lost Garcia on a two-year, $6 million deal. But it was clear that they did not value him that highly and were not willing to pay $3 million per season for a reliever who broke out in his age-34 season.
Instead, they let Garcia go and saved the money to spend on different relievers, specifically ones with longer track records of success. Kelly and Tepera, of course, both fit what they want in relievers – they are groundball specialists – and have been very good in recent seasons.
Signing one, perhaps both, would go a long way toward shoring up the bullpen. And it’s possible that happens once the lockout is over, as it’s become abundantly clear that upgrading the late innings is now their No. 1 priority this winter.