Cardinals rumors: 3 realistic free agent pitchers with St. Louis ties to sign this offseason

The St. Louis Cardinals have a wish list to acquire four of the best pitchers in baseball, but when they come back down to earth, these targets will be waiting.

Baltimore Orioles  v San Diego Padres
Baltimore Orioles v San Diego Padres / Denis Poroy/GettyImages
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St. Louis Cardinals Rumors: Sign Michael Wacha after career year

Whatever Michael Wacha has done to fine-rune his delivery and pitch selection the last few years, it seems to be working. Wacha went 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA for the Boston Red Sox in 2022, and he's been even better this season with the San Diego Padres, pitching to a 2.62 ERA in 17 starts. Assuming that success continues, he's in line for a big contract this coming offseason.

The Padres and Wacha have a mutual $16 million option this offseason. Assuming Wacha does test the free-agent market, he should earn more than that. Going back home to St. Louis makes a lot of sense given the Cardinals need for starting pitching.

As Curt Bishop of SB Nation wrote, the return of Wacha does have its risks considering his BB/9 and constant battle with injuries. However, he may be just what the Cardinals need in their rotation.

"This year, he has been a revelation for the Padres, and he looks much more like his 2013 self. The former Cardinal is 9-2 with a 2.68 ERA in his 16 starts. When healthy, he has been about as dominant as you can be. The Cardinals also need strikeout stuff in their rotation. He is averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings this year in San Diego and has a career average of 7.9 strikeouts."

That sort of strikeout production has been lacking in the St. Louis rotation for quite some time. While the Cards infield defense is one of the best in the majors (you can thank Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt for that), being able to strike out hitters when necessary is an important trait for any starting pitcher. Wacha has found that and then some.

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