The $5 million man: 6 budget relievers for the St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are likely down to one reliever for their offseason checklist. We have some details and names to fill that final spot.
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Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Phil Maton

Phil Maton has been mentioned as a person of interest for weeks now by both Katie Woo and Derrick Goold. The former Astro reliever will turn thirty-one in March, and parts of seven seasons with the San Diego Padres, Cleveland Guardians, and Houston Astros.

In addition to his reasonable price tag, Maton has been mentioned as a possible signee due to his playoff experience. Across three different postseasons, Maton has pitched 21.2 innings with a 0.83 ERA and twenty-two strikeouts. Maton is also a "local" player, something management has been seeing as a bonus with free agents this offseason.

Maton isn't known much for being a closer (only two saves for his career), but he has good strikeout numbers (27% for his career), and he was exceptional last year in Houston at limiting hits (6.7 per nine innings) and home runs (0.8 per nine innings).

Should the Cardinals sign Phil Maton, he would be able to handle both left-handed and right-handed batters. He wouldn't get many appearances in save opportunities, but he could absolutely be used as a setup man or to hold a lead.

Ryan Brasier

Ryan Brasier was the last reported name as a reliever the Cardinals could potentially sign. Katie Woo mentioned him briefly in her latest mailbag, and Derrick Goold brought up his name in his piece before the weekend. The right-hander out of Weatherford College in Texas turned thirty-six in August, so he is one of the oldest pitchers of this group.

Brasier has spent time everywhere, first in Los Angeles with the Angels, followed by a brief stint with Oakland's AAA team, some time in Japan, then back to North America to play for Boston, and he ended last season with the Dodgers. His career has been volatile, and he has faced many challenges, but he finished the 2023 season strongly.

In 38.2 innings with the Dodgers, Brasier had a microscopic 0.70 ERA, 2.48 FIP, and 0.724 WHIP. That is a complete reversal from his first half with Boston, and The Athletic's Chad Jennings attributes his success to a cutter that was untouchable by batters.

Brasier's age, iffy career, and shaky first half last year should make him affordable on a short-term contract. If his results with Los Angeles are real, St. Louis could snag themselves a strong bullpen arm.