3. Lucas Giolito
Lucas Giolito would be the Cardinals' "bounceback candidate" this offseason. The 29-year-old right-handed pitcher out of California was once a Cy Young Candidate and an All-Star. He hasn't been able to reclaim that dominance these past two years, but the blueprint for success for Giolito is somewhere in there.
He has a 4.43 career ERA, a 4.44 career FIP, and a 1.254 WHIP with a K/9 rate of 9.6. Giolito has been prone to walking many batters with a 3.4 BB/9 ratio. Not only does Giolito have a high ceiling, but he has also shown himself to be dependable. Excluding his first two seasons (rookie seasons) and 2020, Giolito has pitched in more than 170 innings 5 times. He is a workhorse who has the ability to dominate a game.
In 2023, Giolito played for the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and Cleveland Guardians. He pitched 184.1 innings to the tune of a 4.88 ERA, 5.27 FIP, and 1.313 WHIP. He was very strong in Chicago before he was traded to the White Sox, and fans clamored for the Cardinals to claim him off waivers after he was released by Los Angeles in late August. However, the script flipped for Giolito pretty quickly after the Trade Deadline. He pitched 62.2 innings in LA and Cleveland and finished with an ERA well above 6.50, a FIP nearing 7.00, and a WHIP right around 1.500.
If the Cardinals get a Giolito closer to his 2018-2021 self, they have a potential ace on their staff. If they get a more recent version of him, it is possible they may regret this signing. Lucas Giolito is projected to sign for a 2-year, $24 million contract with a player option for the second year. That is a very manageable contract for a third starter who could possibly lead a staff. St. Louis would be wise to sign the former Cy Young candidate.