The Cardinals have made no secret of their desire to add to the bullpen. Having accomplished their goal of bringing in three starting pitchers, St. Louis is prioritizing the relief corps.
President of baseball operations John Mozeliak suggested this evening the organization is likelier to add to the bullpen via free agency than in trade (relayed by Katie Woo of the Athletic). That’s a little surprising considering the Cards have been open about their willingness to trade a position player — Mozeliak candidly admitted they’re fielding offers on Tyler O’Neill yesterday — for pitching help.
Of course, noting that a free agent acquisition is more probable than a trade doesn’t close the latter avenue completely. The front office is surely exploring both paths. On the free agent front, reports have loosely linked St. Louis to Phil Maton, NPB closer Yuki Matsui and old friend Jordan Hicks.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on X) that the Cards have also discussed KBO pitcher Woo Suk Go. The LG Twins have made Go available to MLB teams via the posting system. A 25-year-old righty, Go turned in a 3.68 ERA over 44 innings this past season. He struck out an excellent 31.1% of opposing hitters but walked an elevated 11.8% of batters faced.
Go has until January 3 to decide whether to sign with a major league club or stay in South Korea. He’s not expected to command the same level of contract as either Maton or Matsui (and certainly won’t approach what it would cost to reunite with Hicks). The Cardinals project for a payroll in the $180MM range, according to Roster Resource. That’s a little above this year’s approximate $177MM Opening Day mark.
Mozeliak has previously suggested the Cards would keep their payroll steady, so they could be fairly close to their budgetary limit. The front office head unsurprisingly confirmed last night that the Cards were not going to top the $237MM luxury tax threshold (via Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat). Roster Resource projects the franchise’s CBT number around $208MM, a fair bit south of the base tax tier.