2. Monster Cardinals free agent target: Justin Verlander
Another big free agent for the Cardinals to look at is Justin Verlander. He won’t command the same length of contract as Judge. He’s too old at this point! As he showcased throughout 2022, he’s not too old to invest in for at least another season.
Age is nothing but a number in St. Louis. The Cardinals won the division with multiple older players including their own free-agent veteran, Adam Wainwright.
Signing Verlander isn’t desperate. It’s actually a move to expedite the process and turn the Cardinals into less of a National League contender and more into a sure bet to at least get a little further in the postseason. The Cardinals rotation already has a lot of options. However, someone like Steven Matz could be drastically improved upon.
Verlander is fully expected to opt out of his contract with the Houston Astros. Likely to win the American League Cy Young Award, he can definitely earn himself an even better deal. He’s set to make $25 million for 2023. Something closer to what Max Scherzer got from the New York Mets—an AAV topping $40 million—could be the way the Cardinals are able to get Verlander to sign up with them.
Add Verlander to the Cardinals and there might not even be a race for the NL Central teams to play.