St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals sign free-agent pitcher as Stanton pursuit continues

Former Texas Rangers starting pitcher Miles Mikolas has signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals.
Former Texas Rangers starting pitcher Miles Mikolas has signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals. AP

The St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday agreed to a two-year contract with right-handed pitcher Miles Mikolas, most recently of the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese Nippon Professional League.

The Cardinals will pay Mikolas $15.5 million over two years.

Mikolas, 29, last pitched in the major leagues in 2014 as a member of the Texas Rangers. He spent the previous two seasons in San Diego, which took him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft.

Mikolas was released by the Rangers with a three-year record of 4-6 and a 5.32 ERA, but has since had a run of success in Japan. Three years in Yomiuri produced a 31-13 record with a 2.18 ERA, though Mikolas was limited to just 91.2 innings pitched in 2016.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander won Central League MVP of the Month awards in June 2015 and August 2017, becoming the first foreign-born pitcher in Yomiuri Giants franchise history to win the MVP of the Month award multiple times. Between his 2015 and 2016 seasons, Mikolas posted a 13-game win streak, becoming the first foreign pitcher to accomplish such a feat in the Central League.

The move adds depth to the Cardinals rotation as the organization continues to plot offseason moves. Free agent Lance Lynn and his 186 1/3 innings pitched last season likely are not coming back. The team also has presumably considered the availability of young arms such as Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver in trade for a middle-of-the-order bat and a closer.

Sandy Alcantara and Michael Wacha, both right-handers, are believed to be the centerpiece of St. Louis’ offer for Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, the 2017 National League’s MVP.

Even without a trade, Mikolas would still be expected to compete for a starting spot in the Cardinals rotation.