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Three pitchers the Cardinals could sign if they don’t land Aaron Nola or Blake Snell

Los Angeles Angels v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

I know everybody is aware of this by now, but it doesn’t make it any less important.

The Cardinals desperately need starting pitching this winter. And it can’t just be journeyman starters that they’ve banked on in the past. They need at least one frontline starter.

I wrote a piece last week questioning whether or not we can trust John Mozeliak to fix the starting rotation. I gave one reason why we should trust him and one reason why we shouldn’t. Mozeliak has said himself that the Cardinals are going to need to get three starters this winter. Many of us are hoping that one of them is either Blake Snell or Aaron Nola.

However, something that needs to be considered is that Bill DeWitt Jr. is the one who is truly in charge here. He gives Mo the green light to make certain moves and tells him to hold off on others based on how much money a player costs. With that in mind, it’s fair to be skeptical that the Cardinals would actually go after Nola or Snell. Given DeWitt’s track record, I’m afraid the Cardinals will want to get into bidding wars for them.

However, even if they don’t do that, there are starters aplenty to choose from in free agency. Below, we’ll discuss three starters the Cardinals can go after if they find Nola and Snell to expensive.

Lucas Giolito

When the Angels put Giolito on waivers, everybody in St. Louis was hoping the Cardinals would pick him up for a test run. I personally was disappointed that they didn’t place a claim.

There is reason to be skeptical about Giolito, as he owns a 4.45 ERA on the season after a brutal stint with the Angels. But it’s important to look deeper than just the ERA, even though that is a pretty good indicator of a pitcher’s success.

The veteran right-hander is still averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He also doesn’t really walk batters, as he’s averaging 3.3 walks per nine innings. The ERA is a bit concerning, but he posted a respectable 3.79 mark with the White Sox before the trade to Los Angeles.

We’ve also seen him pitch like an ace before. He could be cheaper than somebody like Nola, Snell, or Julio Urias.

Sonny Gray

Of the starters on this list, Gray would probably be the best option for the Cardinals this winter.

His 2.92 ERA is the best in the American League, and he averages 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings while also averaging few walks. He has averaged 8.7 strikeouts over nine innings in his career and is also a veteran presence that the Twins are leaning on right now.

He’ll be expensive no doubt, but the Cardinals might have better luck going for him than Nola or Snell.

Eduardo Rodriguez

I don’t see Rodriguez as a true ace-type pitcher. I think he’s a No. 3 starter at best. That being said, the Cardinals can’t sign him thinking he’s going to be their ace.

However, his stats are good this year. The 30-year-old left-hander owns a 10-7 record and a 3.11 ERA over 21 starts. He’ll likely opt out of the rest of his deal with the Tigers, which would make him a free agent.

While I don’t see him as an ace, I think he could be a solid compliment for the ace that the Cardinals do sign, should Mozeliak keep his word. No pitcher will come cheap, but Rodriguez has proven to be durable this season with Detroit and could be had this winter.