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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Aaron Loup

These final relievers are purely speculative on my part, so I won't spend as much time on them. The first is Aaron Loup; Loup will be thirty-six for all of 2024. He played for the Los Angeles Angels last year and posted a 6.10 ERA and a 1.747 WHIP in 48.2 innings. His career numbers are significantly better, however. He has a career 3.43 ERA and 1.258 WHIP.

Loup has only tallied eight saves for his career, but he has faced his fair share of batters in high-leverage situations. Batters have a .272/.353/.383 slash line against him in these scenarios. Loup would have to prove 2023 was a fluke year, but he has shown an ability to pitch well in relief for his career.

Adam Ottavino

Adam Ottavino, a thirty-eight-year-old righty, had a strong season last year for the New York Mets. In 61.2 innings, Ottavino had a 3.21 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 1.216 WHIP. He also had twelve saves, an attribute John Mozeliak has been looking for in his free-agent acquisitions this offseason.

Ottavino started his career in St. Louis in 2010, and he has played for three other teams aside from the Cardinals and Mets. His career numbers are right in line with last year's stats (3.42 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.284 WHIP, 29.5% K rate). Ottavino may be old for baseball, but he appears to have more left in the tank for next year. He would be a sneaky signing, and I'm afraid fans wouldn't love the move, but I think his acquisition would do a lot of good for the 2024 bullpen.

Collin McHugh

Collin McHugh was once one of the best long relievers in baseball, and he was even a starter in his first three years with Houston. The Cardinals have Matthew Liberatore and Zack Thompson as pitchers who can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen, but McHugh would be a right-handed complement to those two.

Last year, McHugh pitched 58.2 innings for the Braves with a 4.30 ERA and a 4.09 FIP. He was hit hard (10.7 hits per nine innings), and his walk rate of 8.2% was one of the highest of his career. McHugh doesn't seem to have the same touch he once had, but perhaps the Cardinals could make him a reclamation project to provide more depth in their bullpen for next year.