Cardinals Extend Jack Flaherty
Even if you are a fan that has concerns about Flaherty, everyone has to acknowledge that the team is lacking top-end rotation pieces for the future. Adam Wainwright is in his last year with the club while Mikolas, Matz, and Hudson are likely middle rotation pieces at their best, and youngsters like Woodford, Reyes, and Hicks are likely not going to top a playoff rotation. Matthew Liberatore has a ton of potential, but most scouts view him at the moment as a great No. 3 starter or good No. 2 if he reaches his potential. Banking on any of these guys to be the club’s ace would be a major gamble.
Flaherty, when healthy, is far and away the best bet to lead the Cardinals rotation not only in 2022, but for the future of the club. The Cardinals have a healthy dose of position players in the minor league pipeline (Gorman, Walker, Herrera, and Yepez to name a few), so the club can afford to move resources, specifically salary, toward top end pitching.
Reports say that extension talks will likely wait until after the 2022 season. If Flaherty is able to bounce back and produce like an ace in 2022, the club would need to find a way to get Flaherty back to the negation table. To keep him off the market and locked up long term, you’d likely be looking at the 10 year, $210-$220 million deal range, but those are the kinds of prices you pay for top level pitching. Flaherty would have incentive to get locked in with his injury history.
The club has had major deals like Carpenter, Fowler, and Martinez come off the books, as well as the contracts of Wainwright and Molina after 2022. If the club is serious about long term contention, there is no room to pinch pennies here, assuming Flaherty is back to his ace form.