The St. Louis Cardinals, who are desperately seeking bullpen help, were oddly not connected to two top free-agent relievers.
When the Major League Baseball lockout ends, and no one knows when that will be, the St. Louis Cardinals will prioritize upgrading the bullpen.
Among the names most prominently connected to the Cardinals include Joe Kelly, Ryan Tepera and Collin McHugh. But in a recent top-25 free agent list from Jim Bowden of The Athletic, he did not list the Cardinals as prime fits for Tepera or Kenley Jansen, the consensus top free-agent reliever.
Tepera is a player the Cardinals are intrigued by, so it is surprising that Bowden did not list them as one of the best fits for the right-handed reliever. After all, he is among the most underrated relievers in baseball — he posted a 2.79 ERA in 2021 and has a sub-3.62 ERA in six of seven major-league seasons — and received an (accidental) MVP vote in 2020 by Rick Hummel, the legendary St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer.
To me, Tepera is arguably the best fit among all free agents and could be had on a two-year, $12-14 million deal, which is something the Cardinals should be able to afford.
The same cannot be said for Jansen, however, and this is where Bowden and I agree. While Jansen would shore up the ninth inning, giving the Cardinals an All-Star caliber arm, he will command a two or three-year deal that will exceed what they are willing to pay when they want to add another starting pitcher, a bat and potentially a second late-inning reliever.
Despite Bowden not listing Tepera as a free-agent fit, he’s a name I’m keeping a close eye on for the Cardinals. Jansen, meanwhile, feels like a pipedream – and will be playing somewhere outside of St. Louis next season.