As hot-stove talk back in St. Louis focuses on a potential trade with the Miami Marlins that would put slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of the Cardinals lineup, word out of Major League Baseball’s GM Meetings is that the team also is interested in a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
National baseball writer Jon Heyman reports from Orlando, Florida, that the Cardinals have their eyes on free agent Jake Arrieta of the Cubs and Yu Darvish of the Dodgers.
Though the team would prefer to find a pitcher in trade, it may not find what it’s looking for on the market. Heyman identifies the Miami Marlins, whose new ownership has pledged to cut $50 million from its payroll, as a potential trade partner.
The Marlins aren’t likely to part with ace Chris Archer, so could that mean the Cardinals would seek a deal for Highland native Jake Odorizzi?
A No. 1 pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, Odorizzi, 27, was 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA last season.
Arrieta, 31, grew up in nearby Farmington, Mo., and is close friends with Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter. He was the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2015 and was 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA last season.
Arrieta is expected to turn down a $17.4-million qualifying offer from the Cubs. As of last spring, he and agent Scott Boras were seeking a contract worth $200 million.
Darvish, 30, was acquired by the Dodgers at the trade deadline in a deal with the Texas Rangers. He has a career record of 56-42 with a 3.42 ERA. He, too, might have been in the $200-million contract club, but might have taken a hit to his value with a pair of short-lived starts in the World Series.
The Cardinals may still turn to their own free agent, Lance Lynn. Lynn is expected to turn down the team’s qualifying offer and test the market. He was 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA coming off Tommy John sugery.
St. Louis President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has said the team’s No. 1 offseason priority is a middle-of-the-lineup batter.
With new television revenues and a wealth of young pitchers and outfielders, it is believed the Cardinals have an advantage in their pursuit of a trade for Stanton, who led the National League with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs.
The Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants also are considered contenders for the 28-year-old outfielder.