St. Louis Cardinals add to rotation with two veteran signings

The St. Louis Cardinals added to their rotation, adding both Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson in consecutive days.
New St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn
New St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn / Elsa/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals turned in an uncharacteristic 2023 season, finishing in last place in the National League Central with a 71-91 record. Whatever could go wrong went wrong for the Cardinals, and the team entered the offseason in need of some quick fixes given their competitive window.

To add to their rotation, the Cardinals signed two veteran starters, in Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. For Lynn, this deal has a bit of a deeper meaning behind it, as the 36-year-old began his career with St. Louis. Gibson joins the fold after spending last season with the Baltimore Orioles.

For Lynn, his deal is for one year and a guaranteed $11 million, with performance escalators up to $14 million. The deal also includes an option for 2025, which would bring the deal up to $25 million. All reports are courtesy of Jon Heyman.

Lynn spent the beginning of his 12-year career with St. Louis, from his debut in 2011 until hitting free agency after the 2017 season. In those six seasons (Lynn missed all of 2016 with an injury), the big righty never posted an ERA higher than 3.97, and was named an All-Star in 2012.

Outside of his 2019-2021 stretch, Lynn's time in St. Louis is his best work. Now on the wrong side of the aging curve, Lynn is need of some adjustments following a season in which he posted an ugly 5.73 ERA for the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. The metrics are fine, as a 4.86 xERA is enough to keep Lynn in the back of a rotation. His fastball and cutter have lost some effectiveness, which is a problem because Lynn throws the two 79 percent of the time.

The good news is that Lynn still ran an above-average whiff rate last season. The upper-end outcome would be Lynn settling in as a solid number three or four as the Cardinals make a run into the playoffs and Lynn can ride off into the sunset.

As for Gibson, his nomadic career post-Minnesota continues, as the veteran righty has now joined his fourth team since 2020. One day after Lynn, GIbson signed with St. Louis for a one-year deal, with an option for a second.

Gibson was good in the first half of 2021 with the Texas Rangers before he was traded to Philadelphia. In the ensuing seasons, Gibson has not been as great. He has bascially been healthy his entire career, which is good for a team like St. Louis that endured so many injuries last season.

The right-hander generates a ton of ground balls (49.7 percent, 81st percentile), which is great considering the high-level infield defense for the Cardinals, and he has run a single-digit walk rate for his career. His 4.73 ERA matches his expected ERA, so there is no batted ball sorcery in his 2023 numbers. Gibson's sweeper was brilliant, holding batters to a .147 batting average, so maybe a pitch usage adjustment could unlock some performance improvements.

Neither will likely move the needle towards playoff contention, but every team needs capable starters at the back end of their rotation. Both Lynn and Gibson do not come at steep price tags, especially for the Cardinals, who are likely not done this offseason, and figure to be active in the trade market.