On the heels of the exceptionally forgettable (Re: miserable) 2023 season for the St. Louis Cardinals, there's no denying that John Mozeliak made a concerted effort to improve the roster. Sonny Gray was a headlining signing of the offseason to bolster a barren rotation, and veteran additions of Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn helped to fill that out further.
There were other moves along the way and, to be sure, it does appear highly likely that the Cardinals are staged to be far better in the 2024 campaign than they were a year ago. At the same time, though, it's impossible for fans or analysts to escape the feeling that more could've been done in St. Louis, perhaps a more aggressive approach in free agency than what the club showed.
But maybe that's still in the cards, no pun intended?
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson posited the idea that the Cardinals should go all-out, increase their payroll, and make one final run at reuniting with left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery, who St. Louis acquired from the Yankees at the 2022 trade deadline only to trade him to the World Series champion Rangers at the 2023 deadline.
MLB Rumors: Cardinals-Jordan Montgomery reunion back on the table?
To be clear, this is not a report of what is in the works right now. However, Frederickson did lay out a compelling case as to why it should be on the table for the Cardinals.
For one, Montgomery's agent Scott Boras said at the Winter Meetings that he'd let the Cardinals and Mozeliak know that their side was open to the possibility of a reunion. Furthermore, it's not hard to see why it'd make sense for St. Louis as it'd add a true top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Gray, Miles Mikolas, Gibson and Lynn.
Frederickson also laid out the fact that the Cardinals could afford the deal if they wanted to make it happen, even if Montgomery doesn't take a discount (from anyone, not just St. Louis). And with Mozeliak seemingly willing to spend on the right player, it would make all of the sense in the world for Montgomery to be another spend-big candidate.
The best point, however, may have been regarding the flexibility it would give the Cards with their rotation and bullpen.
"Signing the familiar and proven Montgomery would allow the Cardinals to weaponize Steven Matz as a reliever instead of a fingers-crossed starter. Matz's injury and performance issues in the recent past make him a rotation question mark. His increased velocity in a relief role and swing-and-miss potential from the left side could pair nicely with the right-handed relievers the Cardinals have added this offseason. Matz is set to make $12.5 million this season and next. That's not too much money if he's a reliable reliever, as previous sample sizes suggest he can be. This argument isn't about punishing Matz. It's about proactively trying to maximize his talent after he's started only 27 times through two seasons here."
Again, this isn't a report of what is happening, only a supposition of what could and should happen for Montgomery and the Cardinals. What is certain, however, is that every fan that will populate Busch Stadium in 2024 would almost unanimously agree that a reunion with Montgomery drastically increases St. Louis' chances of competing next year.