Lance Lynn contract details, grade: STL Cardinals take a curious gamble to reinforce rotation

The St. Louis Cardinals needed to reinforce their starting rotation. Their first step in doing so is a curious one.
San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

In 2023, pitching would be the bane of the St. Louis Cardinals' existence for much of the year. Here's where they ranked in some key metrics:

  • Opponent batting average: 29th
  • Opponent on-base percentage: 27th
  • WHIP: 27th
  • ERA: 25th
  • FIP: 22nd

Pitching was in view the whole year, a theme that saw Willson Contreras scapegoated and multiple pitchers traded as St. Louis positioned itself for a complete overhaul of the key role on the roster heading into 2024.

After missing out on Aaron Nola -- and in fact, not even trying to display urgency in acquiring him -- the Cardinals finally made a move, adding Lance Lynn to their roster on Monday morning.

Here are the contract details.

Lance Lynn contract details: A fine signing if the Cardinals keep at it with better moves

According to Jeff Passan, Lynn and the Cardinals inked a one-year deal worth $10 million. He started his career in St. Louis as Passan reminds us:

Given that the money is guaranteed, this will not be a simple cut if he doesn't perform well in spring training. Lynn projects to be a significant part of the starting rotation.

In a vacuum, this deal does not pass the smell test. Lynn put forth a bad year last season and proved to be one of the worst trade deadline acquisitions. The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired him from the Chicago White Sox but his bad stats -- which were largely chalked up to the environment he was in in Chicago -- would not turn around even in a new place.

Lance Lynn stats

Of the 12 expository stats that Statcast looks at, Lynn ranks above the 65th percentile in just one, whiff rate. His pitching run value came in at a -32 last season, earning him a percentile grade of just 1.

Since leaving the Cardinals, Lynn has bounced around a lot from the Twins to the Yankees to the Rangers to the White Sox to the Dodgers. His last really good year was in 2021, but even looking at 2022, he clearly lost a major step in 2023 that the Cardinals think they can help him find.

The grade for this is a just fine B. It's a low-earning deal for Lynn who will take a one-year deal to help rebuild his reputation. It costs the Cardinals little while adding an arm to the rotation.

But let's be clear, the Cardinals have to do more than this with their rotation to fix the issues that plagued them in 2023. Lynn's return to excellence, if it even happens, would be just one piece of the puzzle. If this is the big move of the offseason, the grade falls even closer to an F.

GRADE: B (for now)

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