Offseason Improvements to Pitching Staff
Let’s face it, the Achilles heal of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022 has been pitching. The club has the ability to get hot and make a run, but if they want to be a powerhouse favorite, changes need to be made before the 2023 season. First, let’s look at how much money they’ll be working with.
$38.2 million is coming off the books, with only one of those players being a true impact guy in Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals also have the ability to offload up to up to $20.2 million of salary by trading away the likes of Paul DeJong, Drew VerHagen, Alex Reyes, or using Harrison Bader as a valuable trade chip. Depending on how John Mozeliak wants to reconstruct this roster, he can be looking at between $38-$58 million dollars in flexibility to hand out extensions or bring in new talent.
Let’s say that $20 million is spent on arbitration raises and maybe one extension, the club now has $18-$38 million to work with. If Adam Wainwright decides to come back one more season, he’ll likely command around $8-$10 million, if not, then the club could go shopping for two new arms.
Potential free agent targets for the club could be the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Nathan Eovaldi, Kyle Gibson, Sean Manaea, Joe Musgrove, Tyler Anderson, Jameson Taillon, Mike Clevinger, or Zach Eflin. There are plenty of options on the market, meaning the Cardinals can grab one or two on a good value.
Not only should the club be looking at the free agent market to add an arm, packaging the any of the likes of Harrison Bader or Dakota Hudson alongside some of their up and coming minor league talent could be the key to netting controllable arms like Shane Bieber, Pablo Lopez, Frankie Montas, or any of the other elite arms in the game.
Even just adding a few dependable arms would go a long way toward helping the club be on top of the National League, but it’s clear that the Cardinals have the flexibility to make big pitching moves, which the offseason is when they tend to make blockbuster moves.
A rotation with Jack Flaherty, who’s entering his last year before free agency, Miles Mikolas, Matthew Liberatore, and Steven Matz could take the next level if the club adds one or two of these names. The rebuilt starting pitching paired with the best offense in baseball makes St. Louis a force to be reckoned with.