5 unpopular decisions the Cardinals have made that ended up being right

The Cardinals have made a lot of mistakes in recent years, but these five decisions ultimately were best for both fans and they organization.

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New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages
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3. Avoiding the high-end pitching market last offseason

The Cardinals made a mistake not strengthening their pitching staff before the 2023 season, but they were not wrong to avoid investing in some of the more expensive arms available last offseason.

Many fans wanted Carlos Rodon, who ended up signing a six-year, $162 million deal with the Yankees. He then proceeded to miss most of the 2023 season, and when he finally got back on the mound, was nowhere near the kind of pitcher New York paid him to be.

How about Jacob deGrom? Well, the two-time Cy Young award winner got a five-year, $185 million deal from the Texas Rangers, and proceeded to miss most of the 2023 season and will likely not return until late summer in 2024.

Justin Verlander? He was pretty good in 2023, but his two-year deal worth $86.7 million (and a $35 million vesting option for 2025) is a huge number to pay a starter who did not pitch like an ace last year, and he too will miss time to begin the 2024 season.

The top arms in that free agent class were busts for the numbers they got, and the Cardinals were wise to not sink their payroll with those deals. Now, there were a number of players they could have still signed, such as Nathan Eovaldi, Zach Eflin, and Michael Wacha among others, and the club should be criticized for now diving into those waters.

A growing trend in the game of baseball is that most of the highest-paid starters are either injured or not even the best starter on their staff. Out of the eleven highest-paid starters in Major League Baseball in 2024, seven are either injured or retired to start the year, and three of them for sure won't start opening day. Only one, Luis Castillo, may get the ball to start the year.

I'm not arguing the Cardinals should not spend on top free-agent arms. But I am saying they were right to pass on many of the arms that they did. But the ones I listed above, along with someone like a Kevin Gausman from a few offseasons ago, would have been much needed on this staff.