Frankly, the only thing standing in the way of the Cardinals signing Josh Hader is Bill DeWitt's budget, which over the years has proven to be a huge obstacle for the Cardinals.
What I'm saying is, the Cardinals are not likely to sign the game's top closer. But other big bullpen arms are available even after acquiring Andrew Kittredge, including one that was actually with the Cardinals to start 2023.
I'm talking of course about Jordan Hicks. After years of injuries plaguing him and a terrible start to the 2023 season, Hicks found himself again and re-emerged as the dominant reliever he once was.
The right-hander even reclaimed the closer's role when Ryan Helsley went down with an injury. He was 1-6 with the Cardinals last year but managed to lower his ERA to 3.67 and save eight games before being traded to the Blue Jays and racking up four more saves. He finished the season with a 3.29 ERA.
In this piece, we will discuss a potential reunion with Hicks and what it would look like for the Cardinals.
Does a Jordan Hicks reunion make sense?
In my mind, it makes perfect sense to re-sign Hicks.
There are obviously risks due to his health. He'll want a multi-year deal and won't come cheap, so that's another thing to keep in mind. The Cardinals would be smart to ask themselves if a multi-year deal for someone who has struggled with his health is worth it. Is 2023 an outlier or is he back to his old self?
Still, I think it would be a good idea for the Cardinals to bring him back. After his dreadful start, the Cardinals placed him in low-leverage spots to help him get his confidence back. It didn't take long for him to earn more high-leverage opportunities.
Hicks is obviously a high-velocity guy. We've seen him even hit 105mph with his fastball. He has the makings of a truly dominant reliever.
He pitched even better in Toronto once the Cardinals traded him at the deadline. In 25 appearances, he posted a 2.63 ERA. I actually like him better in the closer's role than I do Ryan Helsley. I'm sure that's an unpopular opinion, but he really found his groove as the closer in June and helped pick up the slack.
No, he didn't save 30 games. He saved only 12, which doesn't exactly scream dominant closer. But you have to take things into account. Firstly, he wasn't the closer with the Blue Jays. He was the setup man for Jordan Romano. And with the Cardinals, he didn't get many save opportunities even when he was closing because the Cardinals rarely carried a lead into the ninth inning in 2023.
With a better rotation, that is far more likely. But if anything goes wrong with Helsley in 2024, the Cardinals can stick Hicks in the closer's role and know that they have a guy who has done it before and is used to pitching at the end of games.