Does Lance Lynn make sense for the Cardinals in 2024?

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three / Elsa/GettyImages

There will be a wide variety of starting pitchers in free agency for the Cardinals to choose from this coming winter. We know they need three rotation arms, and at least two of them need to be frontline starters.

More than likely, it will be hard for the Cardinals to accomplish all of this in free agency, which is why the trade market remains an option for St. Louis.

The Cardinals finished with a record of 71-91 and came in last place in the NL Central this past season, mainly because of their lack of pitching. Their weak starting rotation took them out of contention early in the season and they never recovered.

But the Cardinals will have plenty of arms to choose from in the offseason, which could potentially lead them to a reunion with an old friend.

Lance Lynn began his career in St. Louis in 2011 and was a key member of the bullpen during their run to the World Series. Soon, Lynn became a starter and even became an All-Star in 2012.

The veteran right-hander left St. Louis after 2017 and made brief stops with the Twins and Rangers before a stint with the White Sox, who traded him to the Dodgers this year. The Dodgers hold a club option on his contract. If they decline, Lynn will become a free agent.

But does Lynn make sense for the Cardinals this winter? There are certainly pros and cons to a potential Lynn signing.

Lynn is obviously familiar with the organization. None of his teammates from his prior stint in St. Louis are still around, unfortunately, but he's been a Cardinal before, and the Cardinals know what he could bring. They even showed interest in him at the trade deadline.

He's a competitor who takes the ball every fifth day and is also a guy with a ton of experience, especially in big games. Despite a down year in 2023 in which he posted a 5.73 ERA with the White Sox and Dodgers, Lynn is still a strikeout machine and innings eater. He punched out 191 batters over 183.2 innings of work and won 13 of his 32 starts.

He could potentially be had on a one-year deal with a possible club option for 2025. When he's right, he can profile as a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm, which would be beneficial if the Cardinals can grab two frontline guys in addition.

Lynn struggled with the White Sox, posting a 6.47 ERA before being traded. He improved drastically in Los Angeles, going 7-2 with a 4.36 ERA, which isn't bad for a 36-year-old. He averaged 9.4 strikeouts per game and just 3.3 walks.

However, there is obviously a downside to a potential Lynn signing. Firstly, he's 36 years old and will be 37 in May. He also had a very rough season, and while he improved with the Dodgers, he still had a bad ERA. His outing in Game 3 of the NLDS was also very poor.

The Cardinals already watched Adam Wainwright decline sharply, and adding Lynn would mean taking on the risk that he too could endure a sharp decline just as Wainwright did.

A Lynn signing also may not seem like much, and instead of a big move, which the Cardinals need, it may come off as more of a bargain deal, which the Cardinals have done enough of over the past several years. They would be banking on a lot to go right.

Still, it could be a low-risk, high-reward type move. Any deal for him would be more of a "prove it" deal than anything else. It could be beneficial to the Cardinals, especially if he rediscovers his form from 2022 when he posted a 3.99 ERA.