The 2022-2023 offseason was an important one for the St. Louis Cardinals. The team had made the postseason the last few seasons but did not succeed, the 2024 rotation had only one pitcher signed (Steven Matz), and fans were hungry for the front office to make some signings. Payroll was rumored to be going up now that the team had recovered financially from COVID crowds and new revenue from Apple TV and other subscription services was being spread throughout the teams in the league.
Instead of capitalizing on these conditions and desires, John Mozeliak and Co. stayed put in the offseason, only signing Willson Contreras to replace the heralded Yadier Molina. The Front Office restated confidence in a resurgent Jack Flaherty, a confident Adam Wainwright, and strong leadership in Jordan Montgomery and Miles Mikolas.
Plenty of top-tier pitchers were available. Jacob DeGrom, Justin Verlander, and Carlos Rodon headlined the free-agent class. Mid-tier guys such as Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassit, Noah Syndergaard, and Zach Eflin were also available. While the organization was likely priced out of the high-end talent, it was more than achievable — and desirable — that the front office sign one of the other pitchers who were available. A signing this past offseason would have beefed up the starting rotation for this year in addition to providing coverage for 2024 and beyond, assuming the team wouldn't have resigned all three of Flaherty, Mikolas, and Montgomery.
Let's take a look at the contracts given out to the four mid-tier players and their performances thus far to see if the team was wise to avoid them, or if the team missed a golden opportunity to improve their rotation.