Welcome to Black Friday! It is the most wonderful time of the year. You can hear Andy Williams singing the Christmas classic in the background while you are racing through the stores to find bargain deals. Many teams in MLB will be doing the same to fill out their rosters. TheSt. Louis Cardinals are going shopping for pricey pitching which will max out their 2024 budget. With additional roster positions needed to be filled, the remaining budget will be prudent to find bargain deals.
Here are three Black Friday deals the Cardinals need to purchase and three they need to avoid.
Once a perennial Cy Young candidate, Ryu has slipped away with age. He will be in his age 37 season with over 1000 innings pitched in the big leagues. Recent injuries have plagued him, and the Blue Jays probably regret signing him to a 4-year deal for $80 million. With his return in 2023 for 11 appearances, however, Ryu showed he still has some gas left in the tank. He is lacking heavily in fastball velocity and strikeout percentage. But Ryu is not allowing hard-hit balls, producing a high level of ground balls, and is not walking many batters. If the Cardinals stay true to their defense, Ryu would fit right in as a depth piece to the rotation.
With a complete pitching depth overhaul, the Cardinals are going to want reliable arms in the back end of the bullpen. The team is lacking swing-and-miss potential and needs to add more with the trade of Jordan Hicks and not overuse Ryan Helsley. Ryne Stanek fits the role perfectly. His fastball velocity was in the 96th percentile and his Whiff% was in the 82nd percentile. He was middle of the pack with strikeout% but he did have the lowest BB% of his career in 2023. He will need to focus more on his secondary pitches to generate more soft contact, but the potential is definitely there. The cherry on top? Stanek is a local product in the St. Louis area.
Before you overreact………hear me out. It is expected that Dylan Carlson and Tyler O'Neill will be traded for pitching depth this off-season. Alec Burleson is drawing trade interest, Tommy Edman might end up being a surprise trade piece if the price is right, and Victor Scott II is on the rise through the pipeline. It was once thought the Cardinals have deep outfield depth, but that can be changing after this off-season. The Cardinals lineup has lacked left-handed hitters for years and can always add short-term depth until the next wave of prospects is ready.
Heyward is already familiar with the Cardinals organization and is no longer the star he once was. He adapted to this new role with the Dodgers and exceeded expectations in 2023. Given he is going into his age-35 season, he will not be getting a long-term contract. His defense is still elite and his bat has some juice left in it. He makes a great fit for a short-term investment at a fairly cheap price.