ST. LOUIS– The Cardinals jumped into the free agent fray late Tuesday by agreeing to terms with lefthanded pitcher Steve Matz on a four-year, $44 million deal that is reportedly all done except for waiting on a physical.
The move adds a pitcher able to carry at least 150 innings for the 2022 rotation, and importantly gets done before Major League Baseball owners are expected to lock out players overnight on December 2 while they negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the players association. Without knowing when a new CBA gets done, there’s no way to know what kind of a mad scramble will exist for talent ahead of what could be an abbreviated spring training and the start of a season.
A lockout could delay the December 9 Rule 5 draft, where teams can seek out a diamond in the rough as long as they’re able to keep the player selected on the active roster for the following season. For the Cardinals, now looking for upgrades in the bullpen and on the bench, as well as potential DH options, the Rule 5 draft wouldn’t appear to be the place where a difference-making solution could be found, but you never know.
Given what the Matz deal appears to have cost from an annual average value perspective ($11 million), the Cardinals haven’t given indications that they are done. John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this month that the 2022 payroll will be higher, but was not specific with a dollar amount.
St. Louis could turn to the man who ended the season for the Cardinals with a walk-off home run.
Los Angeles Dodgers utilityman Chris Taylor, has been connected to St. Louis along with several other teams, including Boston, Texas and, San Francisco. Fangraphs projected Taylor could end up with a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $60 million.
After playing as the proverbial Swiss Army Knife in the infield and outfield for Los Angeles, is Taylor looking for a stable role or is he willing to do the same thing for the right price somewhere else?