The Cardinals have already checked two items off their offseason to-do list. Early in the week, they signed Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson to one-year deals.
Like many Cardinals fans, I don’t think these are necessarily bad moves, but they aren’t the moves I was hoping for, or the moves that the Cardinals needed to make. In my opinion, they should have chosen between Lynn and Gibson and set their sights on two front-end starters.
Instead, they have chosen to build the rotation from the back to the front, which is very risky if you ask me. But that brings us to what the Cardinals need to do next.
To top off the starting rotation, the Cardinals need an ace. They need somebody who you can count on in postseason games, preferably somebody with swing-and-miss stuff.
Once again, the Cardinals rotation is looking like a weak point coming into the 2024 season. But if John Mozeliak does this right and lands an ace, the rotation will be in much better shape.
Still on the market are Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Sonny Gray, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery after Aaron Nola came off the board on Sunday. On the trade market, Dylan Cease, Shane Bieber, and Tyler Glasnow are available.
That being said, the Cardinals cannot mess this next signing up. And with the rotation not being top-heavy, the Cardinals are also going to need to go big for two bullpen arms.
I think starting pitching should remain the priority before the Cards shift to relief help. I’m not saying they shouldn’t jump on the opportunity to sign a reliever or two, but the rotation should take precedence, and the Cardinals must do this right.
In my opinion, the best course of action would be to get the ace in free agency, then wait until the trade deadline to acquire somebody like Cease from the White Sox. This means their focus should be on Yamamoto, Snell, Gray, and Montgomery.
The top three options should be the priority, as Yamamoto, Snell, and Gray all possess swing-and-miss stuff, while Montgomery is more of a ground-ball pitcher.
I hate to say it, but I think Yamamoto is unlikely. Still, the Cardinals should try to land him if they can. That would give them a legitimate ace.
Snell and Gray are the most likely in my opinion. They both qualify as No. 1 starters and can be relied upon in big games. They won’t be as expensive as Yamamoto and are largely strikeout pitchers.
The worst thing the Cardinals could do is sign somebody like Frankie Montas, James Paxton, or even Eduardo Rodriguez. While Rodriguez is a viable option, Montas and Paxton would be nothing more than bargain signings.
It’s time for the Cardinals to go big and stop relying on pitchers to bounce back from bad seasons. They need certainty with their pitching staff, both in the rotation and bullpen.
The Winter Meetings are coming up, and the market should start to move a little bit more once they start. The Cardinals must move as well and sign the right No. 1 starter.