The Cardinals have signed right-hander Brandon Dickson to a minor league contract, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link) first reported. He’s been assigned to Triple-A Memphis.
Dickson, 36, is looking to return to the majors after nearly a decade away. He pitched 14 2/3 MLB innings for St. Louis between 2011-12 but joined the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball before the 2013 season. Dickson spent the next eight years with the Buffaloes, pitching to a 3.32 ERA across 892 1/3 innings at Japan’s highest level. He began his NPB career as a starter but worked as a closer the past few seasons, suggesting he’s likely to serve as bullpen depth for St. Louis. Last season, Dickson worked to a 3.28 ERA with a 21.1% strikeout rate and a 10.5% walk percentage.
Dickson becomes the second arm the Cards have added in recent days, as St. Louis signed veteran lefty Wade LeBlanc to a big league deal yesterday. Nevertheless, the Cardinals front office is still hunting for pitching depth, Goold writes in a separate piece. St. Louis has been in contact with rival clubs about trading for starting pitching, he notes, and they’ve been active on the free agent market. Goold reported last week that St. Louis has been in contact with free agent Shelby Miller about a potential reunion, but he added today that Miller has received offers from several teams since being released by the Cubs last month.
The Cardinals rotation looks in need of an upgrade if the 35-34 club is going to make a run in the NL Central. Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas are down with injuries for extended periods of time, leaving St. Louis with a current starting staff of Adam Wainwright, Kwang-hyun Kim, Johan Oviedo, John Gant and Carlos Martínez. Oviedo and Martínez have struggled this season, while Gant’s elevated 15.8% walk rate raises some doubt about his ability to keep his ERA around its current 3.50 mark.
It’s still too early in the year for many teams to abandon hope of competing, but there are a couple arms who could offer passable innings at the back of the rotation and should be available right now. The Diamondbacks have no hope of contending this season and could consider moving Merrill Kelly, who’s controllable through 2022 via a $5.5MM club option. He only has a 5.40 ERA this year but his peripherals (21.4% strikeout rate, 7.1% walk rate, 4.26 SIERA) are closer to average. Pittsburgh figures to be willing to trade Tyler Anderson, who has a similar combination of poor ERA (4.89) but more adequate underlying numbers (21% strikeout rate, 6.5% walk percentage, 4.33 SIERA). The Rangers and Tigers would surely listen on Mike Foltynewicz and José Ureña, respectively, although it’s not clear either is an upgrade over Martínez or Oviedo with how poorly they’ve pitched this season.