The St. Louis Cardinals made their biggest splash yet in an attempt to revamp their lackluster rotation, agreeing with AL Cy Young runner-up Sonny Gray on a three-year contract Monday to anchor their staff heading into next season.
John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, already had signed free agent righthanders Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn to one-year deals. But Mozeliak also said the Cardinals were not at “the finish line,” and a week later, they have one of the best pitchers on the free-agent market at the front of their rotation.
“We were hoping to sign a couple of pitchers we knew we could count on for innings,” Mozeliak said, “and if we could accomplish that, we were hoping we could do something a little bigger, a little longer, and obviously that’s where Sonny fits in.”
Gray, 34, went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA for Minnesota last season. He turned down a qualifying offer from the Twins, who get an additional pick in next year’s amateur draft as compensation for losing him, currently No. 33.
St. Louis will lose its second-highest selection. It could be a small price to pay for a big boost to their rotation.
“Where I am in my career,” Gray said during a news conference at Busch Stadium, “I want to win. I’m coming to an organization like St. Louis — the tradition, just walking in here this morning, walking around seeing everything — the history is there. The feel is there. It’s just a baseball town and city and a place that I’m thrilled to be able to come and be part of it.”
The Cardinals went 71-91 last season for their worst record since 1995, and the biggest culprit was pitching. Their rotation had a 5.08 ERA, fifth worst in the major leagues, and when the bullpen was added to the mix, their 4.79 ERA ranked 24th.
The Cardinals only had righthander Miles Mikolas and lefthander Steven Matz under contract for 2024, so it made sense for them to move quickly and sign Lynn and Gibson to absorb innings at the back of the rotation.
The 36-year-old Lynn, a two-time All-Star and part of the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series title team, went 13-11 with the White Sox and Dodgers last season. Gibson, also 36, went 15-9 with a 4.73 ERA for AL East champion Baltimore last season.