The St. Louis Cardinals are faced with a pivotal offseason after finishing 71-91, the club's worst season since Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. took over the club.
While talking to the St. Louis Business Journal (subscription required), President Bill DeWitt III said the organization is prepared to raise payroll this offseason, even as they saw a decrease in revenue during the 2023 season.
According to DeWitt III, he expects the Cardinals "will climb the rankings" among MLB teams for payroll size. According to FanGraphs, the Cardinals ranked 14th in payroll in 2023 but will need to see their ranking rise if they want to acquire the pitching they desperately need.
DeWitt III's comments seem to confirm recent reporting from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold, as his sources were telling him that ownership and the front office were "in agreement" about the team's need for pitching and that payroll will have to rise to acquire pitching in the modern market.
Sources have also told Goold about a number of arms that the Cardinals' are expressing interest in, including but not limited to, Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray, Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Dylan Cease, Tyler Glasnow, and a variety of others. I recently ranked ten of the names that have been reported and who I see the Cardinals' likely landing.
While I have been talking at length lately about how the Cardinals' front office and ownership's stance on payroll this offseason seems to have finally changed based on reporting, this is the first time we've really heard ownership speak about it like this publically. While fans point to last offseason's promises about payroll going up as misleading from the front office and ownership, this feels very different.
In fact, payroll did go up last offseason, but mostly because of a rise in internal salaries, rather than going out and upgrading the club. It also appears that ownership, and perhaps the front office, got cold feet when the pitching market rose the the levels it did, but now see that they will have to match those prices to compete in today's game.
At the end of the day, actions will speak louder than words. If the Cardinals do not deliver in bringing in the talent they are saying they want to acquire, then these words are meaningless. But for now, their tone is finally different. When have we ever heard the DeWitt's talk openly about being willing to operate without having operating revenue? They seem embarrassed and frustrated by 2023, and although they should have learned that lesson a while ago, the change appears to be coming.
Let's hold them to it. Don't let them get away with not spending big this offseason. Hold them to raising the payroll because of these pitching upgrades they say they want. They've named the target for us, and it's finally what it should be. Now it's time to deliver.