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?
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5. Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yoshinobu Yamamoto just turned 25 years old, and has been lighting it up in Japan for years now.

Yamamoto has a 1.34 ERA on the season in 134 innings of work, and his career ERA in Japan is 1.77 in 930.2 innings. Not too shabby. So, he'll get some insane mega-deal, right?

That's the biggest question surrounding him it seems. Some view him as a guy who can come in as a number two or three starter immediately and has the potential to become a true ace for whoever signs him, while others have tempered expectations, especially since he doesn't have elite strikeout numbers in Japan.

He knows how to pitch though, and his stuff is really good. He also will not have a qualifying offer attached to him, and again, he's just now turned 25. Even an eight-year deal would sign him through just his age-33 season. Other guys on this market will be getting long-term deals that take them into their late 30s or early 40s.

It's always tough handing significant money out to a player who you've never seen pitch at the big league level. Unfortunately, Team Japan was so deep at the World Baseball Classic that Yamamoto only got one start, where he went four innings, striking out eight batters and allowing just one hit against Team Australia. Had he gotten a start against Team USA, the Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico, it would have been a bigger test for scouts to see.

Yamamoto did come in relief for Japan in the semi-final game against Mexico, giving up two runs over 3.1 innings of work. Mexico played great all tournament long, and put up three runs in 4 innings against the highly touted Roki Sasaki.

There's a chance Yamamoto gets close to $200 million in free agency this offseason. The Cardinals could be intrigued by his upside and youth here, so I would keep Yamamoto on the radar for them this offseason.