The Cardinals have declined their half of the $9.5MM mutual option on Jake Westbrook's contract, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Westbrook will be paid a $1MM buyout.
The 36-year-old Westbrook posted a 4.63 ERA in 116 2/3 innings for the Cards this season, maintaining a strong ground-ball rate (56.3 percent) as has come to be expected of the veteran. However, his already low strikeout rate dropped, and he wound up posting a career-worst 44-to-50 K/BB ratio. The writing was on the wall for Westbrook, as he was left off the team's postseason roster.
Typically very durable, Westbrook also saw a pair of stints on the 15-day disabled list in 2013, missing a month with elbow inflammation and another two weeks with a strained lower back. Westbrook may be able to find a Major League deal this offseason in free agency based on his track record, but the two DL stints and the fact that he walked more batters than he struck out in 2013 would mean his guarantee would be just a fraction of this season's $8.75MM salary.
The Cardinals are well-equipped to move on from Westbrook, with Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Jaime Garcia all present as internal options for the starting rotation.