The Cardinals have settled upon some pitching roles for the outset of the season, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was among those to cover on Twitter. Newly inked southpaw Kwang-Hyun Kim is headed to a high-leverage relief role, while right-hander Carlos Martinez will step back into the rotation.
This represented one of those good problems in need of resolution. Lacking any health issues to drive a decision, the Cards had to take their pick between two rather appealing choices to round out the starting staff.
Kim inked a two-year, $8MM deal under which the club also posted a $1.6MM fee to his former KBO outfit. Kim was sharp in Spring Training, throwing eight scoreless frames with 11 strikeouts and just one walk. While he made his mark as a starter in Korea, Kim will have to earn his way back into the rotation in St. Louis. Alternatively, he could etch out a prominent gig at the back of the pen, perhaps as a closer.
There’s a model to follow in Martinez himself, who was a high-quality MLB starter for years before health issues intervened. He ended up being shifted back into the pen, where he rung up saves in half of his 48 appearances in 2019. Now, the talented 28-year-old will get a chance to reestablish himself as a starter. It makes sense that the club elected to give him another crack at the rotation. Beyond his established ceiling in that role, Martinez is owed $11.5MM in 2021 with two high-priced club options to follow.