St. Louis Cardinals: Possible free agent pitchers to target for 2024 rebuild

The St. Louis Cardinals front office has their work cut out to fill out their pitching staff for 2024. Here is a look at possible upcoming free agents they may target.

It is an unusual feeling for St. Louis Cardinals front office to be shifting their focus from the final two months of the season to next year. But, due to their inability to address pitching issues this past offseason, that is precisely where they are at today. President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak stated they will be active in the market this offseason, but who are some of the names out there to target?

The list is strictly from Spotrac and sorted for pitcher’s that are set to be unrestricted free agents. This may not include all possible players due to opt-outs from both players, mutual, and team options.

Shohei Ohtani (age-29) is at the top of the list, but does anyone really think the St. Louis Cardinals will land this superstar? I personally do not see the team forking out $400+ million that it may cost for his services moving forward, so I will mention his name for the sake of doing it, but not dive into this too deep.

I think there a group of solid five pitchers that will be highly coveted to be long-term impactful starters.

Lucas Giolito (age-29) has to be at the top of the list. Since 2018, he has proven to be a solid innings eater, eclipsing 160+ each season except for the pandemic-shortened season of 2020. Even in that season, he posted a solid 72.1 innings. When forking out big dollars for a starter long term, this is a pivotal need. From 2019 through 2021, he posted sub 4.00 ERAs and, although he took a step back in 2022, he has rebounded in 2023 to be an effective starter once again.

Jack Flaherty (age-27) reunion must be on the table for the St. Louis Cardinals. Although injuries mounted the past couple of seasons, the team knows his medical records. They also know that he can be an ace and, as 2023 has progressed, so has he. Now with the Baltimore Orioles, it is tough to watch him succeed, but at minimum this needs to be attempted.

Aaron Nola (age-30) will be one of the most coveted names on the market. He too is a proven innings eater. Since 2018, he has eclipsed 200 innings in three different seasons and, out of the bunch, he is the true workhorse comparatively. His home run rate against him this season is elevated compared to his past and that has to be a concern, but he is a proven top-tier starter with ace stuff.

Julio Urias (age-26) easily has the best metrics out of the others in this group. His health would have been more of a concern, except he has proven his ability to stay healthy the past three seasons. His sub-3.00 ERA in 2022 and 2021 stand out from the crowd of pitchers, but he has substantially regressed overall in 2023. By the numbers though, he has some real outliers mixed into some great starts. Of his 45 earned runs, 35 came in just five of his 16 starts. The other 11 outings, he posted 66.1 innings and 10 earned runs.

Jordan Montgomery (age-30) could spark another reunion if the St. Louis Cardinals desire. He is a secure bet as well as the past three seasons, including this one if he maintains for the Texas Rangers, will have sub-4.00 ERA along with 150+ innings pitched. Both of those are rare and highly valued.

Overall, these five starters not named Shohei Ohtani will certainly be high on many team’s boards to seek this upcoming offseason. Is the St. Louis Cardinals front office willing to fork out the cash to haul in one of these big names? Would they really want to run it back with Jack Flaherty and or Jordan Montgomery? Time will tell, but they have plenty of spots to fill.