I'm not sure how many more times we can say the St. Louis Cardinals need pitching this offseason, it's a clear and obvious need this offseason. The Cardinals' pitching staff was the source of so many of their issues this last year, and revamping that can have a dramatic impact on the club's ability to bounce back in 2024.
Most conversations about this offseason have centered on the Cardinals' rotation, and rightfully so. Right now, Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz are the only two veteran starters under contract, with young arms like Zack Thompson, Matthew Liberatore, Drew Rom, Gordon Graceffo, and Michael McGreevy providing depth to that group. They lack front-line starters though, and need a third arm to add to that rotation mix as well.
Katie Woo of The Athletic touched on this "to-do" list on Tuesday (paid subscription required), and once again reiterated the Cardinals' plan to add three major-league-ready starting pitchers this offseason through some combination of free agent signings and trades. When it came to the bullpen though, she offered some insight that seems to indicate that the Cardinals also intend to make significant moves there as well.
Woo stated that relief pitching was "high on the organization's priority list" and that St. Louis will likely try to add not just one, but two "high-leverage arms" to their bullpen over the offseason.
If I'm being honest, I wasn't sure the Cardinals would be all that serious about adding high-leverage bullpen arms this offseason. I thought they would prioritize the rotation above all else, and then whatever leftover resources they had would go toward fixing this bullpen. This tells me that St. Louis is really hoping to rehaul the staff in a major way.
High-leverage arms is the key phrase here as well. That's not a Drew VerHagen or Wilking Rodriguez type of signing, that's going after Yuki Matsui from Japan, a reunion with Jordan Hicks, or going after a number of other free agent or trade targets this offseason who they can trust to close games or pitching in high leverage spots. If they can accomplish that, adding two significant bullpen arms alongside Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, and JoJo Romero, could take this bullpen from among the worst in baseball to among the best in the blink of an eye.
What this also tells me is that the Cardinals will have their hands full achieving all of this in one offseason, but that does not mean they should get a pass for not accomplishing it. They dug themselves this hole, and it's time for them to make aggressive moves to get themselves out of it. If they are unable to add three significant arms to their rotation and revamp the bullpen by Spring Training, they deserve all of the criticism coming their way.
If they are willing to spend the money though (which Bill DeWitt III has stated they are) and are willing to be active in the trade market by using pieces like Tommy Edman, Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, Alec Burleson, or prospects to make multiple moves for starting pitchers or relievers, it is very possible they can accomplish all of these things. It will force the Cardinals to get uncomfortable, but frankly, I think they already are after the horrible season they just had.
Be ready for an active offseason from the Cardinals. All signs seem to point to them being one of the most aggressive teams in baseball this offseason, and if they do not follow through, they will never hear the end of it from the Cardinals' media and fans alike.