John Mozeliak has lived up to his promise of adding three starting pitchers this offseason by signing Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, and Sonny Gray all before the Winter Meetings. More rotation upgrades may still be on the table for the Cardinals at the Winter Meetings, but the primary needs now shift to the bullpen. The Cardinals could target many high-leverage options such as Josh Hader, Craig Kimbrel, or Yuki Matsui, but with much of the budget spent on the rotation, they may need to spend more conservatively on the bullpen.
Aside from the proven options, the Cardinals will likely need to try other options to patch the 'pen. With Lance Lynn returning on a 1-year deal and Daniel Descalso returning as the bench coach, the Cardinals could bring back another key component of the 2013 pennant-winning team: Trevor Rosenthal.
Once an All-Star in St. Louis, injuries have derailed Rosenthal's great career, and he hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He missed all of 2021 due to thoracic outlet surgery and hip surgery, all of 2022 due to a hamstring and lat injury, and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2023 after two appearances in Triple-A. However, his high-velocity fastball and swing-and-miss are surely worth a flyer back in St. Louis.
I was lucky enough to interview Trevor Rosenthal on the Noot News Podcast alongside Redbird Rants site expert Josh Jacobs and site contributor Sandy McMillan, and Rosenthal noted that his recovery process was going well, aiming to return to Major League action at some point early next summer.
When asked about returning to the Cardinals, Rosenthal mentioned his close friendship with manager Oliver Marmol and stated that they jokingly exchanged texts about "getting the gang back together." It's clear Rosenthal enjoyed his time in St. Louis, and a reunion could certainly be on the table if the Cardinals are interested.
In adding veteran presence to the starting rotation, the Cardinals should also look to add veteran presence to the bullpen. Rosenthal would be a perfect addition, as his familiarity with the organization and experience pitching in big moments would add much-needed expertise to a young reliever core. The primary concern with Rosenthal has been availability rather than performance as he posted a phenomenal 1.90 ERA and 14.5 K/9 in the 2020 season.
There's also virtually no risk involved in a Rosenthal signing. He'll almost certainly receive a Minor League deal, so if he is injured again in 2024 or underperforms in a rehab assignment, cutting ties with him won't financially impact the team at all. Rosenthal's enthusiasm for the team, Postseason experience, and Major League track record could all be valuable assets for the Cardinals in 2024, so it's definitely worth exploring him as a "lottery ticket" option.