Free-agent reliever Ryan Tepera is considered the “best free agent fit” for the St. Louis Cardinals and should be their No. 1 target.
When the lockout is over, and the offseason resumes, the St. Louis Cardinals have plenty of work to do. They need to address the offense, perhaps add another starting pitcher and most importantly, add an arm or two to the bullpen.
Among the names connected to the Cardinals include right-handers Joe Kelly, Ryan Tepera and Collin McHugh. All would fit the bill of the high-leverage reliever that the team is seeking, but Tepera is someone that I believe is the ideal option for the Cardinals – and Jeff Jones of the Belleville-News Democrat agrees that Tepera is the best fit for the bullpen.
The Cardinals entered the offseason with a need for an impact reliever. Then Luis Garcia signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the San Diego Padres and that need only grew. It was a reasonable price for Garcia, who many in the industry consider to be a very solid right-handed reliever, and left many fans – and people around the team – wondering how the team plans to address the bullpen.
Signing Tepera would go a long way toward shoring up that unit, as he has arguably been one of the most underrated relievers in baseball. He posted a 2.79 ERA in 61.1 innings last season with the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox and has a 3.48 ERA in 297.1 career innings. He should land a deal in the range of two years, $12 million ($6 million annually), which could allow the Cardinals to sign another high-end reliever (Kelly?).
Sure, there is reason for the Cardinals to be skeptical of signing a top free-agent reliever, let alone two of them. Their signings of Greg Holland, Brett Cecill and Andrew Miller all underwhelmed in their time with the Cardinals. But Tepera would not be looking at more than a two-year deal, so there is less risk involved, and he doesn’t have much wear and tear on his arm despite being 34 years old.
If I was the Cardinals, Tepera would be my No. 1 target after the lockout is over. They won’t find much better production at that price elsewhere on the market.