Wise or sighs: Did the Cardinals choose the right starting pitchers this offseason?

St. Louis set the free agent pitcher market when they signed both Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. Did they pick the right back-end starting pitchers compared to other free agents?
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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Seth Lugo - Sighs

The final mid-tier free-agent pitcher is Seth Lugo. Cardinal fans spoke about Seth Lugo as a player who could help the team's rotation. Lugo just signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Kansas City Royals, a team looking to improve for next year. Lugo figures to slot in as the team's #3 or #4 starting pitcher next year. He has an opt-out after the second year.

Lugo just turned thirty-four. He has a career 3.50 ERA, 3.68 FIP, and 1.173 WHIP. He has struck out batters at a 24.4% rate for his career, and his walk rate of 6.5% is above league average. In 2023, Lugo pitched 146.1 innings, a career-high, for the San Diego Padres. He finished the season with a 3.57 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 1.203 WHIP, and 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

Baseball Reference projects Lugo to pitch 115 innings next year with a 3.91 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, and 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Once again, Lynn and Gibson are both projected to pitch the most innings out of any mid-tier pitcher. Lugo, conversely, projects to have better numbers all around when compared to Lynn and Gibson.

Due to Lugo's age, contract length, value, and projected high-end statistics, I would take him over both Lynn and Gibson. Miles Mikolas and Sonny Gray should be able to carry the innings workload when paired with either Lance Lynn or Kyle Gibson. In my opinion, the Cardinal should have signed Seth Lugo over either Lance Lynn or Kyle Gibson this offseason.