The St. Louis Cardinals jumped into the offseason, intending to get more "pitching, pitching, pitching."
The Cardinals' recent signing of Keynan Middleton is the organization's tenth pitching addition this offseason. This addition provides much-needed help for the bullpen, which was taxed most of the 2023 season due to a starting rotation different from what the organization bargained for, as they had to depend on aging and injured starters. While they couldn't produce innings, the bullpen had to make them up nightly.
The Cardinals decided to make changes a little too late to make a difference in the 2023 season. However, they have made numerous changes since last season's trade deadline and look to improve dramatically.
Keynan Middleton contract details with Cardinals revealed
Middleton will earn $5 million in 2024, and the Cardinals have a $6 million option for 2025 with a $1 million buyout. John Mozeliak, Cardinals president of baseball operations, is excited about what the addition brings to the club.
"Acquiring additional proven depth for our bullpen was something we have been focused on," said Mozeliak, h/t the Associated Press. "Keynan's experience in getting outs in the back half of games offers us another strong addition to the bullpen mix."
After being acquired by the Yankees at the trade deadline, Middleton recorded a 1.88 ERA, a 0.977 WHIP, 17 strikeouts, and seven walks in 14.1 innings. On the year between the Yankees and Chicago White Sox, Middleton recorded a 3.38 ERA, a 1.243 WHIP, 64 strikeouts, and 23 walks in 50.2 innings.
Over his seven-season career, Middleton has played for the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Yankees. He has a career record of 10-8 with a 3.84 ERA over 194.1 innings. He has 15 saves and has struck out 199 batters.
Middleton brings bullpen experience to the Cardinals on a team-friendly deal. If things work out, the Cardinals will have him at $6 million for another season. But if things don't work out, the Cardinals can buy him out for just $1 million. This is a perfect deal for the Cardinals, who have been dogged in pursuing more and better pitching.
This deal could prove to be key to their improvement in 2024. It's a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Cardinals.