6. Yuki Matsui
Huh? Who is Yuki Matsui? Well, I thought the same thing recently, but after being linked to the Cardinals by Derrick Goold, I see why they have taken an interest in him.
Matsui is a top-end reliever in the JPPL, who has posted a 1.63 ERA with 39 saves in 2023. He's the youngest reliever in the league's history to hit 200 saves and has the stuff that should translate to the big leagues.
His fastball hits 96 MPH but typically sits between 92-94 MPH. He's a lefty reliever though, and his splitter and slider are the pitches that he tends to overpower hitters with. He also has a curveball, giving him a well-rounded four-pitch arsenal.
While the majority of the attention will be on the Cardinals' pursuit of starting pitching, they'll also be looking for ways to improve their bullpen. Even with a rotation overhaul, they need a few more arms in that bullpen to help shorten and close out games. Ryan Helsley, JoJo Romero, and John King had strong campaigns for St. Louis, and Giovanny Gallegos should be a bounce-back candidate, but they need more in that bullpen if they want to be confident in it.
Matsui would give them a huge boost in that department and is a lefty who can go out against righties as well. It's unclear what kind of deal he's looking at, but I can't imagine it's anything crazy with him being a reliever and not having any MLB track record.
One thing that Cardinals' fans should keep in mind is their recent investments in the scouting of the Japanese market. They've invested heavily in that department in recent years, and are probably one of the strongest positioned organizations when it comes to their intel and relationships with both clubs and teams there. While there's only one other Japanese pitcher on this list, I think there's a good chance they land one of the guys coming over this offseason, I'm just unclear on who it would be. Matsui would be a very interesting addition, though.