Okay guys, I ran out of time this week to write a full length article but I’m not going to leave you hanging. This will be shorter than usual but I want to hit all the bits of St. Louis Cardinals news that we’ve had in the last few days. Let’s jump right in.
Yuki Matsui, a five-time NPB All-Star lefty reliever, visited the Cardinals in St. Louis on Thursday, per sources. The 28-year-old has 236 saves and a 2.43 ERA in 10 seasons with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and is considered one of the better free-agent bullpen options.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 15, 2023
It’s no secret that the Cardinals need bullpen help and are actively searching for reinforcements. We already knew from the excellent reporting of Derrick Goold and others that the Cardinals have interest in Matsui but this report is seemingly the next step up from that.
This is serious interest.
Matsui is a 28-year-old with an established history of success in Japan who isn’t subject to a posting fee. Those are all attractive things and will likely lead to him signing a 3-year deal if I had to guess.
He’s undersized but with his history of success I’m not too concerned about that. His fastball/splitter/slider mix can miss bats and signing him would give the Cardinals a second bat missing lefty in the bullpen next to JoJo Romero.
There’s more, though. Matsui isn’t the only reliever the Cardinals hosted.
The Cardinals are believed to have met with at least two pitchers at Busch Stadium this week, including NPB star Yuki Matsui on Thursday, as @Feinsand reported.— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) December 16, 2023
As the relief pitching market continues to move, adding bullpen help remains the #STLCards immediate focus.
I expect we’ll see some movement on the reliever front pretty soon.
The Cardinals are going to sign more than 1 reliever. I would be surprised if that didn’t happen. John Mozeliak has spoken openly about the need for relievers (plural not singular) and the Cardinals have been concretely linked to quite a few of the available bullpen arms.
Nick Robertson and Ryan Fernandez are not the kind of relievers Mozeliak was referring to when he spoke about adding relievers. Robertson has roster flexibility and adds depth while Fernandez will need to compete for a spot in Spring Training.
I still expect the Cardinals to bring in 2 solid relief arms.
We know about Matusi but we also know, again from the excellent reporting of Goold and the other Cardinals beat writers, that the Cardinals have varying degrees of interest in Woo-Suk Go, Phil Maton, Jordan Hicks, and Hector Neris.
That’s a good group or arms with bat missing upside and that tells us a couple of things.
First, the Cardinals are looking for swing-and-miss stuff in the bullpen. That’s a good sign. It also tells us that the Cardinals are trying to truly upgrade the bullpen. Hicks, Neris, and Maton aren’t typical middle relievers. Those are guys who can compete for spots in the back end of the bullpen. Matsui probably belongs in that group.
Go may or may not. It’s harder to tell with him. He does have plenty of upside tied to his ability to miss bats and it’s easy to see a possibility where he can compete for a back-end spot but that’s not as much of a sure thing and his contract will likely be smaller because of that.
We’re also talking about relievers here so really there are no sure things.
Recently, I broke down a few of the Cardinals bullpen options, namely Maton, Matsui, and Go, so I’ll direct to that article if you’re looking for more details on those arms.
BREAKING: Right-handed starter Jack Flaherty and the Detroit Tigers are in agreement on a one-year, $14 million contract, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 15, 2023
Now that we know the price of Jack Flaherty, it’s interesting to compare his contract to the contracts signed by Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson.
All 3 signed similar contracts and while Flaherty might have the most upside of the group, Gibson is probably the most sure thing. Lance Lynn also had the best K-BB% of the group and could have a bounce back season if he can get his home run problem under control. That’s a big if.
So I’m curious to see what you all think. Who would have been your preferred pitcher of that group? And who would have been your second choice?
Which Pitcher Do You Prefer?
This poll is closed
Which Pitcher Would Be Your Second Choice?
This poll is closed
The Cardinals clearly valued the innings of Gibson and Lynn over another year of Flaherty at a similar price and while it’s possible to make an argument for Flaherty, and even a compelling one, I don’t have an issue with that choice.
I’m curious to see community vote.
The last little bit of news we have comes from Derrick Goold’s latest chat (already linked above). The Cardinals will apparently look to lock up a Paul Goldschmidt extension prior to the start of the season.
J.P. already covered the situation well and I agree with his conclusion so check out his piece if you haven’t yet.
I only have a short little recap article for you guys today so feel free to use any of these things as a conversation starter in the comments. We should have more news here soon as the Cardinals look to lock up their bullpen.
Thanks for reading, VEB. Have a great Sunday.