John Mozeliak had quite the interview this week with the St. Louis media discussing the upcoming off-season. As always, the strategy going forward is pitching, pitching, pitching. This phrase will be the new ringing song across the city until MO backs up his words. The Cardinals are expected to be aggressive going after at least one surefire starter to lead the staff going forward. These names include Japanese sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto, postseason ace Aaron Nola, and potential Cy Young award winner Blake Snell. It is reported that the Cardinals would like to add a one-year bounce-back candidate once they add two cemented pitchers for the top of the rotation. There is a perfect candidate available who has a prior history in Cardinals trade talks and will be an ideal candidate to join the Cardinals next year. His name is Frankie Montas.
Montas made headlines when he was being traded away from the Oakland Athletics in 2022 and was linked heavily to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals instead pivoted to Jordan Montgomery at the last second at the trade deadline and passed on the overpriced trade talks with Oakland. Montas wound up in the Yankees pinstripes and became the next laughing stock of failed Yankees investments. It is not fair to call repeated injured players a failed investment, but this is a common trend in New York. The Yankees, who already lack a farm system, traded away their number 5,10, 20, and 21 prospects in the system to get Montas who only threw 40.3 innings over 2 seasons in the Bronx. The Yankees are likely to move on from him and pursue other options leaving a frequently injured Montas available. So why don’t the Cardinals entertain bringing him in?
Montas is projected to earn $13 million in 2024 according to The Athletic. On a one-year deal, the Cardinals can make that incentive-based to meet tax luxury thresholds. For anyone who says why would you pay someone who is that injury prone THAT much money…Adam Wainwright was paid $18 million in 2023. And look how that turned out...
It has been some time since the baseball world has seen Frankie Montas pitch but everyone knows what he offers. His career 162-game average is a 3.90 ERA with 176 IP. 182 SO, and 58 BB. This would be one of our better starters in 2023. Baseball Savant shows him lighting up in red for xERA, Chase%, Whiff%, Barrel%, and GB%. He is not a pitcher to blow cheddar past you for high strikeout numbers. Instead, he pitches by attacking the zone, producing lots of swings and misses, and keeping the ball down once hit. A pitcher ideal for the St. Louis staff over the past several seasons.
The main focus in the 2023 off-season for the Cardinals needs to be signing Yamamoto, Snell, or Nola and trading for an arm in the competitive trade field. Establish a reliable top half of the rotation so we do not have a repeat of 2023. But this team cannot rely on depth pieces like Dakota Hudson or Jake Woodford to make quality starts. The back end needs to be addressed as well and the budget going into next season is expected to reflect pitching investments. Do not miss out on reclamation projects if they make sense for your organization. This one makes perfect sense.