The Cardinals were among the offseason’s most aggressive teams early. St. Louis signed Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn within the winter’s first couple weeks. That accomplished their goal of bringing in three veteran starters. Things have been quiet since November, as they’ve traded away Tyler O’Neill and swapped outfielder Richie Palacios for middle reliever Andrew Kittredge.
It seems St. Louis’ early flurry on the rotation front will represent the main part of their offseason activity. St. Louis president Bill DeWitt III tells John Denton of MLB.com the club doesn’t anticipate taking on much more payroll this offseason. While DeWitt left open the possibility for reinvesting in the MLB roster after subtracting some amount of money in trade, he implied they’re near the limit of their financial comfort zone.
“Look, I think we’re always open to improving our club within reason, but, you know, we’ve already made some big moves,” DeWitt told Denton. “With payroll, it has to be thought of in the context of the whole business with all the investments we’re making in other aspects of the product on the field. … So, we are making a pretty big push by raising payroll and having revenues somewhat challenged (a reference to the ongoing Diamond Sports Group bankruptcy that could impact their local broadcasting deal with Bally Sports Midwest). It’s actually quite a commitment. Now, is there a little more room there? It depends on the deal.”
That the Cardinals are near their spending target doesn’t come as a major surprise. Roster Resource projects the organization’s 2024 player payroll around $177MM. That’s almost exactly where they opened the 2023 campaign, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak essentially declared at the outset of the offseason that the Cards would have a similar starting payroll in ’24 as they did a year ago.
It’s fair to wonder if the organization has done enough to get back to playoff competitiveness. Lynn is a rebound candidate after giving up 44 home runs. Gibson has been a reliable innings-eater but typically turns in back-of-the-rotation results. Gray should be a significant upgrade, but the Cardinals entered last season with Jordan Montgomery and still didn’t have nearly enough starting pitching.
As things stand, it looks as if they’ll open next year with a rotation comprising Gray, Miles Mikolas, Gibson, Lynn and Steven Matz. Young left-handers Zack Thompson and Matthew Liberatore could push Matz for a rotation spot. The Cardinals could still look for a lower-cost addition to the relief corps to deepen the group in front of Giovanny Gallegos, JoJo Romero and Ryan Helsley.