The foreign free agent market has been extremely strong in 2023. Yoshinobu Yamamoto just signed the richest contract ever given to a starting pitcher at 12 years, $325 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Korean outfield Jung-Hoo Lee signed for 6 years, $113 million with the San Francisco Giants. Neither have any Major League experience, so these NL West rivals are taking a sizable risk in handing out mega deals to players who are yet unproven in American baseball.
However, the success rate of International players in Major League Baseball is higher than it ever has been. Kodai Senga, Ha-Seong Kim, Masataka Yoshida, and of course, Shohei Ohtani are all examples of great MLB players from overseas. When looking at Japan and Korea, teams need to be selective, but also realize how great players from those leagues can be even without Major League experience.
The Cardinals expressed interest in many of the International free agents at the start of the offseason. However, they missed on Yamamoto as his asking price became too high, and Yuki Matsui signed in San Diego after expressing interest in and meeting with the Cardinals. Fortunately, there's plenty of offseason to go and a few solid options for the Cardinals from both NPB and the KBO. Here are the four remaining pitching options ranked.
#4 - Naoyuki Uwasawa (NPB, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters)
I'll keep it short with Uwasawa. He's not an option the Cardinals should look into at all. In 24 starts with the Fighters, he recorded a 2.96 ERA in 170 innings pitched. While the 2.96 number may look promising, Japan is amidst a dead-ball era in which pitchers have a sizable advantage over hitters and league-average ERA hovers around 3. Sure, he'll eat innings but the Cardinals already signed Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, two pitchers with much more certainty than Uwasawa. He'd be a good pitcher for a team to take a flyer on as their fifth starter or a depth-tier option, but the Cardinals do not need his services at all.