How the Cardinals can actually make money by signing Blake Snell

Why it makes sense to sign a Cy Young Award winner even at his asking cost.
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

In case you haven’t heard, there is a Cy Young Award winner who hasn’t signed with a team yet. The ERA leader, 2nd in strikeouts per nine innings, 11th in quality starts, and second in WAR last year. 

This is not an article about the Cardinals signing Blake Snell. They won’t. It’s simply not in their DNA. This is about why they should.

The asking price is still higher than most want to pay. Those who have no problem paying that price have already sorted out their starting rotations. The exception may be the Yankees, once Gerrit Cole’s results are in. Even if the news isn’t good, it would make more sense if they bring back Jordan Montgomery instead. There were rumors that they also revisited the Dylan Cease option before he was traded to the Padres. 

With Snell, it is all about money and maybe more importantly years. He is 31 years old and this will be the last big contract he will sign. So far this year the only pitcher that is over 31 years old to sign a contract over $20 million is the Cardinals’ Sonny Gray. Gray is 34 and signed for an average of $25 million a year. That is where the negotiating begins. 

The Yankees reportedly offered 6 years and $150 million. That is $25 million per year. My guess is since he has won two Cy Young Awards, he will want more than Gray. Being three years younger, he could command it. What if the Cardinals offered $30 million? Follow this year’s trend and make sure they load it with options. Also, follow Gray’s lead and make the first year 20 to keep the Cardinals under the cap. 

Could the Cardinals make this work? They would have to get creative. Currently, they are $24 million under the tax. However, the 26-man payroll is $7 million less than the Opening Day payroll last year. 

This move would show the fans that the Cardinals are serious again about winning. We already had a scare with Gray. This move makes the Cardinals a legitimate contender.

While the Cardinals sharpen their pencils, there is something for them to think about if they decide to not make a move like this. The total attendance in 2022 was 3,320,551 and last year it fell to 3,241,091. That is a difference of  79,460 tickets. According to Statista, the average ticket for a Cardinals game is $38.43. That is $3,053,647 in just ticket sales. 

To get an idea of how much money, the Cardinals truly lose from 80,000 tickets not being sold, the best way to do that is to divide by four (average family) 19,865 and multiply by $284.01 (the average cost for a family of four to go to a Cardinals game). That equals $5,641,858. Losing 5.6 million happens when your fans lose interest in your product. That could happen again if there is a repeat of 2023, which would lower the attendance figures to 3,161,631.

What if adding a Cy Young pitcher improves the team enough to make fans want to come back to the park? What if they come back to the 2019 level, which was the last year the Cardinals were in the NLCS? Instead of an attendance of 3,161,631, they have 3,480,393. Again doing the math, that would be a swing of 318,762 tickets sold. So, by not losing more customers but adding this year, they could generate $22,632,898. If the Cardinals made it to the playoffs and back to the NLCS, Snell would make the Cardinals money, not cost them.

If the Cardinals are serious about wanting to be winners again, they need to look at things like value and ROI instead of just price.