St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning of game two of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Will Toronto Blue Jays target St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Depth?

Is there such a thing as having too much pitching? The St. Louis Cardinals are currently testing the theory.

st. louis cardinals pitching rotation

Could St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn be a target for the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason? Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It sure must be a nice problem to have – too much quality pitching. Danny Knobler at CBS Sports wrote yesterday the St. Louis Cardinals, who are currently leading the Boston Red Sox 2-1 in World Series, will potentially have the unique issue of having more pitchers than they know what to do with. The Toronto Blue Jays are in desperate need of arms for 2014 so could they attempt to benefit from this “problem” the Cardinals have?

Knobler addresses that St. Louis may have as many as ten candidates for next year’s starting rotation. Trevor Rosenthal didn’t start a game in 2013 but has been extremely impressive as the Cardinals closer. Last night he threw 1.2 scoreless innings and struck out two batters. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals attempt to move him to the rotation next year as he’s been lights out with an incredible 12.3 K/9 and only 2.4 BB/9. Even if he isn’t immediately transitioned into a starter there’s no way that this electric, controllable arm is going anywhere.

Adam Wainwright is scheduled to earn $97.5 million the next five seasons ($19.5M per) and the 32-year-old pitcher won’t be a free agent until he’s 37. He’s been a stud for the Cardinals so I would assume he’s not going anywhere plus the timing of his contract means it will expire around the same time many of the Cards best young arms come up for free agency. However arbitration issues could mean St. Louis at least considers the idea moving Wainwright at peak value. Not that the Toronto Blue Jays could afford such a price with a lack of top-end prospects to deal.

Knobler also shares that current set-up man Carlos Martinez could receive consideration as a starter next season. He started one game in 2013 and showed sustained velocity (his final pitch measured at 99 MPH). In 10 postseason appearances Martinez has posted a 0.8 WHIP and a 3:1 K/BB ratio. His big arm would most likely mean mucho interest so if Martinez finds himself as the odd man out there’s a chance the Cardinals could consider shopping the Dominican native. However, that chance is most likely remote.

Michael Wacha, 22, has previously received media attention in Toronto after Bob Elliott wrote in the Sun a story titled “Blue Jays could have had Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha“. I didn’t get a chance to give my insights on the four paragraph story but basically in my opinion it’s entirely unfair to compare Wacha, 22, who was drafted as a three-year college player out of Texas A&M to outfielder D.J. Davis, 19, who the Blue Jays signed out of high school. Davis was drafted 17th in 2012 and with Wacha selected two picks later.

Not everyone is a fan of Alex Anthopoulos’ previous drafts (specifically for not signing first round picks in 2011 and 2013) but I still like the way he managed the 2012 draft. Baseball America rated Davis as the second best prospect in the Appalachian League this year and the Jays also drafted Marcus Stroman 22nd as a compensation pick for their failure to sign Tyler Beede. It may not be paying immediate dividends like Wacha but both Davis and Stroman are developing into highly touted prospects. And it’s a good thing too because Michael Wacha isn’t going anywhere in the near future.

Kevin Siegrist, 23, is another player that came out of the woodwork for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was drafted in the 41st round of the 2008 draft and worked his way up the ranks before making his MLB debut in 2013. In 45 games he posted a 0.882 WHIP and struck 11.3 batters per nine. Seriously, where do the Cardinals find these guys? If there’s no room in the rotation I’m sure St. Louis would be more than happy to have him in their bullpen but if the return made sense would they be willing to part with the controllable pitcher?

Lance Lynn, 26, started 33 games for the Cardinals and tossed over 200 innings for the first time in his career. Despite a solid 3.97 ERA and 198 strikeouts and four starts this postseason Knobler hints “he’ll be the odd man out and could be traded”. Lynn’s numbers command respect from both traditional and advanced metrics so I’m sure the asking price would be steep for interested teams. But with better, younger players looking ready to step up I would expect Lynn to be one of the pitchers that Anthopoulos will be calling on shortly after the World Series. Lynn will be arbitration eligible in 2015 and the earliest time he can become a free agent is 2018.

Shelby Miller, 23, started 31 games and was very good for the Redbirds with a 3.06 ERA and 1.206 WHIP during the regular season but has only appeared once this postseason. He’s a young player and was a high draft pick so I’m assuming the Cardinals will keep him in the rotation next year despite the fact we’ve hardly seen him this postseason.

Knobler reminds us that the Cardinals also hope to have Jaime Garcia (shoulder) and Jason Motte (elbow) return to action in 2014.

I haven’t even named all of the potential options for the St. Louis Cardinals next year but I think you get the point. The adage may hold true that “you can never have enough pitching” and especially if they win the World Series the Cards may very well try to hold on to everybody in hopes of repeating in 2014. But they are also a forward-thinking organization and may be willing to listen especially as it seems when it comes to Lance Lynn. What the price would be I have no idea but it’s definitely something that I believe the Toronto Blue Jays will be considering this offseason.

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  • Mike King

    Lynn will be available, but would require a stud SS prospect or two younger but high level pitching prospects.

  • david s

    The lesson here is found in asking why do the Cardinals have so much young talented pitching? Scouting and player development are the answers to that one question. The Cards have to scout and internally develop as they have a more limited budget than teams like Boston and New York. Toronto is spending more money and it needs to in the AL East if it is to compete but St. Louis’ system works. I really do not know how much the Jays scout. The question is, is the organization doing it well?

    • RyanMueller

      I am pretty sure the Jays staff scouts and I believe that they scout well. What has come into question these past couple weeks (since Farrell’s comments) has been the player development side of things. I have always admired the way the Cards are able continually produce quality big league talent…maybe not superstars but solid big leaguers.