Can the Cardinals buy low on Shane Bieber in the offseason?

Shane Bieber is set to enter free agency at the end of 2024, but his market has likely taken a hit due to his Tommy John surgery. Could the Cardinals sign him as a buy-low option this coming winter?
Cleveland Guardians v Oakland Athletics
Cleveland Guardians v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Disaster struck for the Guardians over the weekend when they learned that Shane Bieber would need season-ending Tommy John surgery.

This is poor timing for Bieber, as he is set to enter free agency at the end of the season. Had he remained healthy, he could've been a candidate for a long-term contract.

That likely has changed, and if he is signed, it will most likely be a short-term deal, quite similar to Brandon Woodruff's current deal with the Brewers, or potentially a one-year deal with a club option.

In that case, could the Cardinals come calling for the right-hander?

Can Cardinals buy low on Shane Bieber?

Bieber has a Cy Young Award to his name, albeit in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. But he still has great potential, and at 28, he should have some good years left once he gets healthy.

Woodruff's deal is likely what will provide the framework for Bieber's next contract. Unfortunately, Woodruff is out for the year, and given the nature of Bieber's injury, he might end up missing a good chunk of next year as well.

In my opinion, it really depends on how well he recovers from his Tommy John surgery. We know it's a long road to rehab from the injury.

One thing to keep in mind is that Jacob deGrom had Tommy John surgery last year and is set to return to the Rangers after the All-Star break. Bieber's surgery likely will come earlier in the season than deGrom's last year, meaning that while he'll miss significant time, he could come back potentially before the All-Star break next year, maybe in mid-late June.

If that's the case, then he'll still have a good chunk of time when he'll be active. Then, if the Cardinals do sign him this offseason, they can give him a chance to rebuild his value. Keep in mind that the Cardinals are going to have two vacancies in their rotation after this year unless they pick up the club options on Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. Based on early results, I don't think that's likely at the moment.

So, why not do the same with Bieber? Yes, he'll miss time, but the fact that his market is going to take a hit might benefit the Cardinals. He'll be more affordable, and it could be a low-risk, high-reward-type situation if he's given a short-term deal.

Again, I think one of two things will happen with Bieber, regardless of where he signs. He'll either get a deal similar to what Woodruff got or sign a one-year deal with a club option.

I would assume that if the Cardinals are going to target him, the one-year deal with a club option is far more likely. He'd be affordable and if it doesn't work out, the Cardinals can simply decline the option for 2026.

It does depend on how he recovers, but he is younger than deGrom and the surgery is likely happening earlier in the year than deGrom's did. There would be a risk, but I don't think this is something the Cardinals should avoid altogether.

Given John Mozeliak's history of buying low on pitchers, this could present him and the Cardinals with an opportunity.