In recent days, many members of The Cardinal Nation’s free message board community as well as the team’s fans all over, have debated the relative merits of the St. Louis Cardinals potentially adding a new front-line pitcher before the start of the season.
Whether free agents Max Scherzer or James Shields or trade targets David Price or Cole Hamels, each transaction has its potential benefits as well as warts. My conclusion to date is that I am excited about none of these alternatives.
Rather than rehash the reasons why, I instead want to look ahead in this article.
Indications are that the free agent pitching market will be richer next winter compared to this. Of course, that means the Cardinals would have to get through 2015 with the choices currently on the table. (As previously suggested, the Cards may still add a scratch-and-dent pitcher to keep in reserve.)
That approach may not be as risky as many think. On Monday, ESPN’s Buster Olney labeled the Cardinals’ current group of starters as third-best in Major League Baseball. With another season to see what the Cardinals have in Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales, and to monitor the health of Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, perhaps the team will determine it has enough in its in-house options to proceed.
Even if not, and rotation trouble ensues during the 2015 season, there is nothing to stop the Cardinals from adding on the fly a short-term starter fix. That is precisely what they did last summer with Justin Masterson and John Lackey, two pitchers who at this time last year, few would have expected would later become available.
Looking ahead to the 2016 season and beyond, let’s consider just a few of the most prominent names on the potential free agent starting pitching list for this coming fall. (Names/ages from MLB Trade Rumors.)
No, we don’t know which of these (or others eligible) will actually make it to the open market and at which price in money and years it would take to land them.
Yet the broader point is that the Cardinals do not have to do anything right now and the more I evaluate it, the more I could be comfortable if they decide to wait. That could turn into a shorter wait or a longer one, depending on how the 2015 season unfolds.
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