15 free agent and trade near-misses that would've changed Cardinals history

Miami Marlins v St Louis Cardinals
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Marcus Stroman, 2021

When free agency started in 2021, Marcus Stroman felt like the perfect signing for the Cardinals. They instead decided to pay Steven Matz, locking them into another underperforming back-of-the-rotation starter instead of grabbing a guy who could have led their rotation this year.

The three-year, $71 million deal that Stroman got from the Cubs is a lot more money than the four-year, $44 million that Matz got, but you get what you pay for. Stroman put up a 3.50 ERA in 138.2 innings last year, and so far in 2023, has a 2.28 ERA in 47.1 innings of work.

The Cardinals have invested way too many dollars in middle-of-the-rotation arms in recent years, burning them time and time again.

Stroman, on the other hand, is killing it for the Cubs and would have helped stabilize the Cardinals' rotation in a huge way. Not only would the Cardinals be in a much better spot right now, but then they could go into the deadline and get one more ace and have a strong playoff rotation of that new ace, Stroman, Montgomery, and Mikolas or Flaherty.