3. James Paxton
There was a time late this season when I believed James Paxton would be a good fit for the Cardinals as a middle-to-back-end rotation arm. After all, he seemed to have bounced back quite nicely from his injury-plagued 2022 season.
But like Montas, there is still a serious injury risk with Paxton. He was limited to just 19 starts this season and posted a 4.50 ERA. He is also 35 and not the ace he once was the Mariners all those years ago.
It is for this reason that the Cardinals should stay away from him. Again, like Montas, adding him would be banking on a lot, and he is far removed from his glory days in Seattle.
If there's one thing Paxton can bring, it's winning experience, much like Lynn. But all the experience in the world won't matter if he can't stay healthy and be the pitcher the Cardinals need him to be.
It's likely that the Cardinals will have to invest in one middle-to-back-end rotation arm, but Paxton isn't it. They'd be better served trying to sign Shota Imanaga from Japan or even exploring a reunion with Michael Wacha, who just became a free agent after the Padres declined his club options.
We've said it ad nauseam, and fans are obviously tired of hearing it. But the Cardinals need quality starting pitching, not guys that are trying to get their careers back on track. We'll just have to say what they can accomplish this winter.