Ranking the likeliest free agent starting pitching fits for the St. Louis Cardinals

There are a lot of starting pitchers being linked to the Cardinals in free agency, but which ones are the likeliest fits?
San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies
San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
7 of 12

6. Blake Snell

Blake Snell has a lot to like about him as a starter. He leads all of baseball with a 2.73 ERA this year (which shows you a lot about the state of pitching right now), and does so by striking out a ton of guys, 11.7 per nine innings this year to be exact.

Snell has always had strikeout stuff, with his career average K/9 sitting at 11.1. He's also had multiple great seasons, including sub-3.60 ERAs in 2016, 2020, and 2022, and a Cy Young-winning 2018 season where he had a 1.89 ERA in 180.2 innings of work.

There are a few concerns with Snell on the mound. First, he walks a lot of batters, up to 5.1 per nine this year with a career average of 4.1. He doesn't give up many hits or home runs, which helps him keep that ERA down. But if his stuff begins to fade with age and the walks do not come down, things could get messy quickly.

He also does not go very deep into games, but I think that is a bit overblown as a concern in today's game. He's 32nd in innings among all starters in baseball. Only one of those starters above him has a sub-3.00 ERA (Cole) and only nine have a sub-3.50 ERA. Snell may only go between 5-6 innings in most starts, but he'll do so while giving up almost no runs. Logan Webb, the current innings leader, only averages about an inning more per start than Snell.

Snell has actually be pretty durable in his career and really does look like the best talent on the market this offseason. Because of that, I think he may be difficult to sign for St. Louis.

Now that Ohtani isn't going to be pitching in 2024 and there is uncertainty beyond that, Snell is the guy with the best swing-and-miss stuff on the market while also limiting runs. The Cardinals will have to pay big time for Snell, and I wonder if some other teams will make more aggressive offers.

I do believe the Cardinals will be in play for Snell, and that they will seriously consider him for their future rotation. I think he'd be an excellent fit at the top of the Cardinals rotation and is worth the big swing, but I'm curious to see how serious the Cardinals get with him.