Cardinals swoop in to beat Yankees for free agent reliever

Keynan Middleton has a lot to offer the Cardinals.

New York Yankees relief pitcher Keynan Middleton
New York Yankees relief pitcher Keynan Middleton / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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The St. Louis Cardinals are shoring up their bullpen with former New York Yankees reliever Keynan Middleton.

Robert Murray of FanSided broke the news on Thursday night that Middleton and the Cardinals have agreed to a contract pending a physical.

The 30-year-old was one of the better free-agent relievers still on the market, mostly because he's coming off one of his better seasons in the majors.

The Cardinals are banking on Middleton being able to recreate his second-half form with the Yankees. He wasn't especially effective in Chicago with a 3.96 ERA in 39 appearances. He was also scarily prone to giving up home runs with 1.7 HR/9.

However, after he was traded by the White Sox to the Yankees, Middleton turned things up. He appeared in 12 games and posted an ERA of 1.88. His HR/9 dropped to 0.6 despite pitching at a slugger-friendly ballpark.

Cardinals spoiled Yankees reunion with Keynan Middleton

The Yankees were rumored to be pursuing a reunion but the Cardinals got out in front of them to sign the righty. The fact that they let him go somewhere else hasn't made fans in New York happy. That's a good sign for fans in St. Louis.

It's no sure thing with Middleton, but he could be a valuable asset in the bullpen if he builds off last season's performance. He gets strikeouts and has proven reliable when available. Unfortunately, availability has been an issue. Before appearing in 51 games in 2023, he had taken the mound in more than 18 games just once since 2018.

Before 2023, Middleton spent time with the Diamondbacks, Mariners and Angels, who drafted him in the third round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

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