NL Central Notes: Cards’ Rotation, McCutchen, Cubs

While the Cardinals are once more shaping up properly to compete for high honors within the National League Central, they’re going to be confronted with some essential selections a yr or so from now. Among their beginning rotation, solely Steven Matz is signed past the 2023 season, with Jordan Montgomery, Adam Wainwright (who will retire), Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty all slated without cost company in November.

Replacing 4 starters in free company isn’t any straightforward feat, significantly given the best way beginning pitchers have been priced this winter, and whereas they do have Dakota Hudson and prospect Matthew Liberatore as choices, it ought to come as little shock that Derrick Goold of the St Louis Post-Dispatch reviews that the staff is planning to open discussions over an extension with two starters this spring.

As Goold notes, Mikolas and Montgomery would seem like the apparent candidates, with Flaherty a risk as effectively – though he has handled accidents over the previous few years. Montgomery, 30 final month, labored to a 3.11 ERA over 11 begins for the Cards after coming over from the Yankees on the deadline final yr. He’s been a gentle mid-rotation arm for a couple of years now and agreed to a $10MM wage in his remaining yr earlier than free company. Mid-rotation arms equivalent to Taijuan Walker and Jameson Taillon have been sought-after commodities in free company this yr, and Montgomery would probably match into that bracket subsequent winter.

Mikolas, 34, labored to a 3.29 ERA over 202 1/3 innings final season. Another yr like that in 2023 would set him up for a pleasant payday late in his profession, so maybe the Cardinals may attempt to get forward of that and lock up Mikolas for one more few seasons.

Here’s some extra notes from across the NL Central:

  • The Pirates transfer to carry again the franchise icon Andrew McCutchen has been met with positivity round baseball, and Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sheds some extra gentle on the matter. As it seems, a return to Pittsburgh appeared unlikely till as lately as New Year’s Day when McCutchen despatched a textual content message to Pirates proprietor Bob Nutting laying out his want to return to Pittsburgh to complete his profession. As Mackey relays, Nutting then approached basic supervisor Ben Cherington, who then met McCutchen for espresso in Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs to see if a deal may very well be made. While veteran signings on rebuilding golf equipment are sometimes completed with a watch in the direction of the commerce deadline, Mackey reviews that it is extra probably McCutchen returns to the Pirates in 2024 than is flipped on the deadline. That’s to not say there isn’t any probability of a commerce, but it surely does look like McCutchen is motivated by serving to Pittsburgh’s younger core return to relevance, and Mackey provides that the 2013 MVP sees similarities in Pittsburgh’s 2009-12 rebuild that wound up within the staff going to the playoffs three straight years between 2013-15. The Pirates does not appear fairly able to return to playoff baseball simply but, however it could make for fairly the fairytale if McCutchen have been to be a part of the subsequent playoff staff in Pittsburgh.
  • The Cubs have been aggressive in free company this winter as they appear to return to the highest of the Central. The staff has inked long-term offers with Dansby SwansonJameson Taillon and Drew Smylywhereas additionally including the likes of Cody Bellinger on important offers. The staff at the moment has a little bit of wiggle room underneath the primary luxurious tax marker, however they’re going to absolutely be approaching it over the subsequent few years as they make extra free agent additions and take care of Nico Hoerner‘s arbitration raises. Per a report from Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune, proprietor Tom Ricketts spoke of a strategic method to the luxurious tax because the staff strikes ahead.“There shall be instances I’m positive within the close to future the place we’ll go over. But we’ll at all times understand that there is a stability there you must at all times look to handle. Just like we did a couple of years in the past, we’ll go over, however we have now to watch out of how lengthy and by how a lot,” Ricketts mentioned. The Cubs’ luxurious tax payroll at the moment sits at $215MM (based on Fangraphs’ calculation), with the primary threshold coming at $233MM.

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