St. Louis Cardinals’ free agent targets could sign fast

Ryan Tepera #51 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Royals 7-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Ryan Tepera #51 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Royals 7-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals’ top free agent targets, especially in the bullpen, could sign quickly after the MLB lockout ends.

When it comes to the St. Louis Cardinals and their remaining offseason plans, it centers around the bullpen. They are targeting one, perhaps even two relievers, and are specifically searching for high-leverage arms.

And once the lockout starts, their targets could sign quickly. Jim Bowden of The Athletic listed free-agent and former Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen as a player who could sign shortly after the lockout.

Now, the Cardinals will not be in on Jansen. He will be too far out of their price range. But once Jansen signs, the other top free-agent relievers – Ryan Tepera and Joe Kelly – figure to sign immediately after, and those are two players that have been heavily linked to St. Louis.

There is a real chance one of them signs with the Cardinals, and the most likely option remains Tepera. Kelly might be slightly out of their price range and even then, there is a real chance he re-signs with the Dodgers. Which would leave Tepera as the Cardinals’ best option, and if he indeed is signed, would leave them with enough room to add another impact relief pitcher (Andrew Chafin? Brad Boxberger?) in addition to exploring infield and rotation depth via free agency.

Adding Tepera and either one of those two options and combining them with Alex Reyes and Giovanny Gallegos would bring the Cardinals’ bullpen from a weakness to a strength. Tepera would likely be brought in for the eighth inning while Gallegos stays in the ninth, though they can rotate, which would give new-manager Oli Marmol some options in how he wants to implement his bullpen.

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If the lockout ends on Wednesday, which is entirely possible, the Cardinals could soon have the answers to their bullpen problems. I think I can speak for all of baseball when I say this: thank goodness.