According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the St. Louis Cardinals have emerged as a mystery team in the Carlos Rodon sweepstakes despite the recent signing of Willson Contreras.
Rodon was long viewed in the second tier of starting pitchers entering the offseason. He will not command the same amount of money as Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander, but more than the third-tier of pitchers like newly-signed Kodai Senga.
Simply put, Rodon fills a hole for the Cardinals. Last season with the Giants, he posted a 14-win campaign with a 2.88 ERA. In 178 innings of work, he recorded 237 strikeouts and finished sixth in the NL Cy Young voting.
His 237 strikeouts are way more than the Cardinals team lead set by Miles Mikolas‘ 153 punchouts last year, and he almost had more than Mikolas and Adam Wainwright (143) combined. If signed, he would be inserted right away as the Cardinals’ ace for the duration of his contract.
Not only would Rodon fill the need of a strikeout-first pitcher, but St. Louis only has one other arm signed after the 2023 season. Steven Matz would be the only pitcher on the St. Louis roster with legitimate MLB experience. Extensions are likely coming for a few current St. Louis pitchers, but locking down a pitcher like Rodon would take some pressure off the front office to acquire more arms.
The downside of the Cardinals’ rumored interest in Rodon is that a signing would go against everything we have seen from the St. Louis front office. Mikolas was the most significant free-agent starting pitcher signing in a long time, and we haven’t seen the Cardinals give long-term deals to pitchers who weren’t brought up in the organization.
However, general manager John Mozeliak was on with with Mike Claiborne on KMOX/1120 AM on Sunday morning and had some interesting comments regarding the Cardinals’ current payroll situation.
"The good news is if we had to go out and invest, we do have some resources available. In terms of making that big splash, I wouldn’t believe many of the rumors you’re reading right now."
Mozeliak opens the door for a discussion about adding a high-end free agent to start his quote, and then, in typical Mozeliak fashion, denies any rumors that may be circulating on Twitter.
Free agents have received an absurd amount of money this offseason with multiple $30 million/season offers on the table. Rodon will not be any different. It’s likely we see him command around seven years at $25-30 million a year.
The lefty would fill a need for St. Louis, but we have never seen the Cardinals hand out a massive deal to a pitcher before. So temper your expectations when scrolling through Twitter.