Add significant bullpen pieces, pause on other moves
While the Cardinals may end up ending their pursuit of more starting pitching this offseason or could be outbid on both the free agent and trade market, it would still make a lot of sense for them to make significant bullpen additions.
The Cardinals really need another high-leverage arm they can rely on late in games, especially one who is right-handed. Phil Maton, Jordan Hicks, and Hector Neris are three relievers who have been linked to the Cardinals that could fill that role, and none of them would break the bank like Josh Hader would. Hicks will likely require a multi-year deal at or north of $10 million a season, but that's not a bad number to pay in today's game. Maton and Neris have been significant parts of the Astros' bullpen recently and would bring a ton of leadership and experience to the Cardinals' relief core.
Another right-handed pitcher to watch is Korean closer Woo-suk Go, who the Cardinals have reportedly shown interest in and has been a strikeout machine in the KBO in recent years.
Another player coming over from Asia this winter, Japanese closer Yuki Matsui is another name that the Cardinals have shown interest in, and although he's a left-handed reliever, he'd still be an excellent pickup to add to an interesting group of Cardinals' arms.
If the Cardinals wanted to be aggressive with their bullpen additions, they could add one of Hicks, Maton, Neris, or Matsui, and then pursue Go or another lower-end bullpen piece to give themselves plenty of options entering spring training.
While I really want them to add another starting pitcher, it's easy to see how their current staff would take a step forward with just an infusion of talent in the bullpen. The Cardinals already solved their biggest issue from 2023, starters giving them non-competitive outings. Now that they can expect so many more quality starts from their rotation, the bullpen should not be as taxed as it was during the season.
Still, injuries, down seasons, and rest days will complicate the Cardinals' bullpen all season long, so having a variety of guys they can rely on day in and day out would go a long way toward helping this team lock down more wins in 2024. If the Cardinals went down this path, I think we'll be looking at them adding another starting pitcher come the trade deadline then.
What do you think the Cardinals will do with the remainder of this offseason? Do you see them remaining aggressive, standing pat, or somewhere in between? Only time will tell.