4. Sign Yuki Matsui
You're going to see me talk a lot about Yuki Matsui until he signs with a team, mostly because it feels very likely that he ends up going to the Cardinals this winter.
We talked about this over on my weekly podcast the "Noot News Podcast", that the Cardinals have reportedly been very interested in Matsui already and that Matsui would love to go to the Cardinals as well. Strong mutual interest is a helpful indicator of potential moves.
If you don't know Matsui, he is a closer from Japan who is coming over to Major League Baseball this offseason and is the youngest closer in Japanese history to reach 200 career saves. Standing at five feet, eight inches, and throwing from the left side, he doesn't blow you away with velocity, but he does strike out a ton of batters. He strikes out 12 batters per nine innings for his career and is doing so in Japan where contact hitting is a huge priority, so strikeout numbers tend to translate really well to Major League Baseball, where strikeouts are more prevalent.
The Cardinals know they need to bolster their bullpen this offseason along with their rotation, and adding Matsui to the mix gives them another high-leverage arm they can rely on during the season. Injuries happen, but even if the bullpen remains healthy, the Cardinals cannot just rely on Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, and JoJo Romero to cover all the important innings. They need a variety of options, and Matsui gives them that.
His closing experience is huge as well. Helsley will be the primary late-inning guy, but he does not typically pitch in back-to-back games, so having multiple other guys who can close out games is huge for St. Louis. Adding another lefty is important as well, as although Romero was great down the stretch, they need multiple looks from the left side late in games.
The Cardinals bullpen should receive a huge boost from having a better rotation in 2024, but adding arms like Matsui can raise it to the next level as well. The best teams in October tend to shorten games with their bullpen, so the Cardinals need to be able to do that as well.
Should the Cardinals miss out on Matsui, I think Jordan Hicks on a three-year, $30 million deal, or Robert Stephenson on something slightly cheaper would make a lot of sense for them as well.