St. Louis Cardinals: 3 free agent starting pitchers to consider

John Mozeliak
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After securing their replacement for Yadier Molina in Willson Contreras, the Cardinals must shift their focus to finding pitching.

The Cardinals signed their much-needed replacement for legendary catcher Yadier Molina. Now that free agent catcher Willson Contreras has signed a five-year contract worth $87.5 million, the Cardinals must pivot to their other needs, such as pitching.

The Cardinals are currently counting on a rotation that includes Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, and either Steven Matz, Dakota Hudson, Andre Pallante, or Matthew Liberatore. Wainwright will retire after this season. Mikolas is in the final season of his contract, while Montgomery and Flaherty are in their last seasons of arbitration. While Hudson was disappointing in a season that led him to be demoted to AAA Memphis, Pallante stepped up during Spring Training and impressed all season in roles that included starting, middle relief, and closing. Libertore was mostly in AAA Memphis but failed to impress in spot starts with the Cardinals.

This rotation is hard to have much confidence in. The Cardinals must bolster this pitching staff to advance in the playoffs.

Carlos Rodon was believed to be a target of the Cardinals this offseason, but his price tag removed him from consideration. Rodon signed with the New York Yankees for a six-year, $162 million deal. Considering previous signings, a move of this level would have been shocking to see the often thrifty team make.

There are good, less expensive options still on the market. Let’s take a look at some of those options.

Jordan Lyles could be a needed veteran arm

Jordan Lyles has spent 12 seasons in league with several different teams, most recently spending a season with the Baltimore Orioles. The journeyman would be an exciting signing for the Cardinals, who could use a veteran arm, a strike thrower who can go multiple innings. 

The 32-year-old righty uses a mix of a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, a curveball, and a change-up. He had a 40.4-percent ground-ball rate for the Baltimore Orioles in 2022. The sinker appears to be his putaway pitch which averages 90.8 mph with 20.8 inches of vertical drop and 92 percent active spin.  

In 32 games, he was 12-11 with an ERA of 4.42 in 179 innings. He had 144 strikeouts. He has a walk rate of 6.7 percent. That would be an impressive addition to the Cardinals. In their current rotation mix, he would be an excellent bottom-of-the-rotation guy and allow Pallante the opportunity for extended relief.