The St. Louis Cardinals are considered among the “best fits” for intriguing free-agent reliever Collin McHugh.
At this point in the winter, we know a few things about the St. Louis Cardinals. They will once again be in the playoff picture in 2022. Their offense should be very good with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado leading the way. The five-man rotation is in place and should be improved after an injury-ridden 2021 season.
But the biggest question remains in the bullpen, where the Cardinals could feasibly use 1-2 additional impact relievers. They have been connected to Joe Kelly and Ryan Tepera, two of the most prominent names on the market, and both would go a long way toward shoring up the team’s weakest unit.
An additional name to consider is right-hander Collin McHugh, with Jim Bowden of The Athletic listing the free-agent reliever as one of the best fits for the St. Louis Cardinals.
McHugh, 34, had a bounceback season with the Tampa Bay Rays, who figured out how to best utilize the right-hander and maximize his pitch mix that features a fastball, slider, cutter and occasional changeup. As a reliever, he posted a career-best 1.55 ERA and 74/12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With Kelly and Tepera, the question has been price and whether or not the Cardinals would be comfortable handing out, say, $6-8 million on a multi-year deal to either reliever.
With McHugh, he made $1.8 million last season. He would surely make more than that, perhaps on a multi-year deal, and figures to be more affordable than Kelly and Tepera. Besides, McHugh offers something that neither does: prior starting experience, with McHugh capable of pitching multi-inning stints if needed.
Considering the injury history inside the Cardinals’ rotation, and lack of bullpen depth, that versatility could prove to be the incentive that results in president of baseball operations John Mozeliak pulling the trigger on a deal. But his market figures to be extensive, with Bowden saying that McHugh is a fit for every contending team.
But the Cardinals were able to outbid half the league for left-hander Steven Matz. Who says they can’t do it again with McHugh?