St. Louis Cardinals sign intriguing veteran pitcher to minor-league deal

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed Aaron Brooks to a minor-league deal and the right-hander seems like a perfect fit behind an elite defense.

During the lockout, the St. Louis Cardinals are not allowed to sign free agents to major-league deals, but they are able to sign players to minor-league deals with invites to spring training. There have been plenty of teams that have done this, including the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Cardinals have been relatively quiet since the lockout began on Dec. 1.

On Monday, the Cardinals signed veteran right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks to a minor-league deal that includes an invite to spring training.

Brooks, 31, has pitched in four major-league seasons, most recently spending the 2020-2021 seasons the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), where he posted a 2.79 ERA in 229.1 innings. He has always been known as a pitcher with very good command – he had a 4.4 percent walk rate in the KBO – and MLB Trade Rumors pointed out that he had a 78.4 percent groundball rate.

In St. Louis, Brooks could thrive behind the Cardinals’ elite infield defense that features three Gold Glove players (Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado). It makes him an intriguing fit either as a spot starting pitcher or as a long reliever if he indeed makes it to the majors, which is entirely possible considering that the Cardinals have been desperate to add pitching depth.

I would expect the Cardinals to make similar moves in the future, both with pitchers and hitters, as they try to find under-the-radar options that can make an impact in 2022. It’s also the latest example of the team’s commitment to adding players from overseas, with assistant general manager Matthew Slater leading the internal charge behind their international signings.

Brooks will be a name to watch come spring training. While he may not be the household name, and won’t draw the headlines that Steven Matz did, he has a shot to make an impact in 2022.