The Mikolas deal provides stability while not getting rid of the Cardinals' flexibility when addressing the rotation
The Cardinals extended Mikolas and somehow did so without giving him a higher AAV than he was already at for this year. With Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, and Jordan Montgomery's deals coming off the books after this season, the club still has the ability to go and sign (or trade for) a top-end starter over the next calendar year.
With Mikolas and Matz locked in, the Cardinals now just have three rotation spots to fill. They will have about $42 million freed up from the three outgoing starters and Paul DeJong's contracts ending, plus a slew of in-house options to fill out the remaining spots.
The hope for this season is that St. Louis is able to identify a few arms internally who can at least take over the back end of the rotation spots. Jake Woodford will get his chance to audition for that early on in 2023 with Wainwright's injury, while names like Gordon Graceffo, Matthew Liberatore, Tink Hence, Michael McGreevy, Connor Thomas, Zack Thompson, Andre Pallante, and even Cooper Hjerpe could all factor into those plans.
Between those nine names, I would be shocked if the Cardinals are not comfortable with at least two of those guys grabbing rotation spots next year. The perks of having young pitching in your rotation means they are cost-controlled, allowing you to go out and invest heavily into one or two arms at the top of the rotation.
Whether that's at the trade deadline this year or in the offseason, I am now even more confident that the Cardinals will be willing to acquire a true ace for this rotation, now that they know they have the flexibility to do so.
There's one more reason I really like this deal for St. Louis that is important to note.