How the Royals spending impacts the Cardinals and the I-70 rivalry

The Cardinals were quick to address their rotation issues this winter, but their cross-state rivals in the Royals have made some key moves to take steps toward relevance. Here is how it impacts the Cardinals, as well as the I-70 rivalry.
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

While the Royals don't typically make the big headlines in baseball, they have quietly had a very productive offseason. The team signed Hunter Renfroe to bolster their lineup, as well as three-time World Series champion Will Smith, Seth Lugo, and former Cardinals Michael Wacha and Chris Stratton. They also traded for right-hander Kyle Wright, who is looking to bounce back to his 2022 form after a bad 2023 season with the Braves.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been quiet since the additions of Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson. They could use another starter for their rotation and some bullpen arms.

I've said before that I believe the Cardinals are more than likely done adding starters. I hope I'm wrong, but we haven't heard anything in a while on Dylan Cease or Shane Bieber and whether or not the Cardinals are in on either of them.

They should be targeting at least one of those guys, but if they aren't going to add anymore starters, they should focus on the bullpen.

But what about the Royals? How come they have been more active than the Cardinals? And what does it mean for the historic Missouri rivalry?

How Royals offseason impacts the Cardinals

Granted, none of the Royals' moves have been what you'd call earth-shattering. The Cardinals made a splash when they signed Gray. So, you could make the argument for quality over quantity.

But this is not something the Cardinals can turn a blind eye to. No, they don't play the Royals with any degree of regularity due to the Royals being in the American League. But one saving grace from 2023 and the past several years in which the Cardinals really didn't set the world on fire is that the I-70 rivalry has been pretty one-sided in their favor.

While the Cardinals are bound to have a better season in 2024, the rivalry may not be so one-sided anymore. Keep in mind that just like the NL Central, the AL Central is wide open with no clear favorite. The Twins won the division, but the Cardinals were able to pluck Gray away from them, so their hold on the division may be slipping.

Out of all teams in the AL Central, Kansas City has been the most active. The Tigers have also made a few key moves, signing former Cardinals Jack Flaherty and Shelby Miller, but the Royals have done the most.

I'm not sure I'd pencil them into the postseason just because of one big offseason, but you can't deny that the Royals have done a lot of work. Most of that work has been done with their bullpen. Stratton and Smith are high-leverage guys you can trust late in games.

The Cardinals need two high-leverage bullpen arms and have not added them yet.

When you look at both teams, it's still pretty clear in my mind that the Cardinals are the better club. They finally have an ace to lead their rotation and still have a solid lineup from top to bottom, assuming everybody stays healthy for the better part of the year.

The Royals rotation has without a doubt improved with the additions of Wright, Wacha, and Lugo, but they don't really have a workhorse in their rotation. The Cardinals have plenty of guys who can give you innings.

The one area I might give the edge to the Royals in is the bullpen. As mentioned previously, the Cardinals haven't addressed that part of their club yet, while the Royals added two solid arms.

Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, and JoJo Romero at the back end of the bullpen is a pretty solid combo, but St. Louis needs more to bridge the gap in case starters don't go deep.

I believe that the Royals' spending should get the Cardinals' attention. While the Cardinals are still the better team by far, the I-70 rivalry might not be quite as one-sided this year, unless the Cardinals get two solid guys for their bullpen.