Towards the end of November, the Cardinals were busy. They immediately added three viable starting pitchers to their rotation in Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson.
I still believe the Cardinals need to add another proven starter, but it looks to me like they’re next move is going to be bullpen related. If the Cardinals are to salvage the rest of the offseason and put a contending team together, they need at least two relievers if they’re not going to add another starter.
The best option available is Josh Hader, someone who is familiar with the NL Central and would fit right in. That’s what most fans are probably hoping for, but the Cardinals recent track record suggests that it’s unlikely.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t solid relievers out there that could help boost the Cardinals bullpen. There are actually quite a few outside of Hader, and we’ll be discussing three of them that could be of use to the Cardinals in 2024.
I’ve banging the drum for a reunion with Hicks for quite some time. He got off to a terrible start in 2023, so bad in fact that I even wrote a piece calling for the Cardinals to dump him.
Fortunately, Hicks turned it around and even seized the closer’s job after Ryan Helsley went down. With the Cardinals out of contention, Hicks was traded to the Blue Jays on July 30 and continued his dominant stretch in Toronto.
His injury history is something to keep an eye on, but he’s a high velocity pitcher and someone who can be trusted in high-leverage spots.
The right-hander would come at almost half the price of Hader, which is good considering that the Cardinals don’t seem to have learned their lesson on changing their payroll model. Hicks could still do wonders for this bullpen.
Another guy I like is David Robertson. He’s a proven veteran reliever with closing experience. Should Helsley not pan out as the closer, the Cardinals could stick Robertson in that spot and know what they’re getting out of him.
He began the season with the Mets before ultimately being shipped off to the Marlins when New York engaged in a fire sale. After posting a 2.05 ERA with the Mets, he struggled in Miami to the tune of a 5.06 ERA.
But even in his advanced age, Robertson is somebody you can trust in key spots. He’s been to the postseason several times and even won a ring with the Yankees in 2009. We’ll see if the Cardinals take a flyer on the veteran right-hander.
Neris put together a strong season with the Astros, going 6-3 with a 1.71 ERA. This is another example of a veteran guy with closing experience. I could see him filling multiple roles with the Cardinals. He could be used at the back end of games or even be deployed as a middle-relief option.
Neris averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings, so he brings the swing-and-miss capability that the Cardinals so desperately need in order to turn things around. The right-hander was a key piece on the Astros 2022 World Series championship team and is another guy with big-game experience.
In my opinion, the Cardinals need at least two of these guys or other solid relievers to be able to contend for a playoff spot.