The St. Louis Cardinals are unlikely to trade for a starting pitcher or reliever, John Mozeliak said, and it could define their entire season.
The St. Louis Cardinals entered spring training with uncertainty in the rotation. Then Jack Flaherty went down with an injury, leaving him out for Opening Day and potentially much longer, and their rotation in extreme turmoil.
Yet the Cardinals are not panicking.
“Right now, I think it’s an internal issue,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said, via Katie Woo of The Athletic. “I think that was part of the reason why we were aggressive and tried to sign guys that we felt could give us some protection for the rotation.”
The quote above was in response to a question about how the Cardinals planned to make up for the losses of Flaherty and Alex Reyes. So, Mozeliak essentially ruled out pursuing Oakland A’s starters Sean Manaea or Frankie Montas or anyone else available on the trade market.
Is it a risk? Of course. The Cardinals have good options in the rotation such as Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz, Dakota Hudson and Jake Woodford. But Mikolas and Hudson have extensive injury histories, Wainwright is over 40 years old, and Woodford is young and inexperienced. Matz, meanwhile, has never thrown over 161 innings in his career.
The Cardinals are in good shape in the bullpen to make up innings, as they have Jordan Hicks and Ryan Helsey healthy. Giovanny Gallegos is back in camp and set to pitch primarily out of the ninth inning. Nick Wittgren, meanwhile, is now in line for a bigger role. The same can be said for Kodi Whitley.
The Cardinals learned last year just how valuable having pitching depth is. After all, their lack of arms nearly derailed their entire season. Mozeliak is betting on that not happening once again – and it’s a risk that could change the entire outlook of their season if he’s proven wrong.