The terms of Middleton's deal are still unknown, but the Cardinals added a viable high-leverage arm to their bullpen with this move.
The 30-year-old spent last season with the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. The right-hander made 51 appearances and posted a 3.38 ERA over 50.2 innings. He also averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Grading the Middleton signing by Cardinals
Overall, this is a pretty solid move by the Cardinals. They desperately needed a high-leverage arm for the back end of their bullpen, and this move certainly checks that box.
Middleton also brings swing-and-miss ability to a bullpen that was lacking in that category. His 30.2 strikeout rate ranked in the 91st percentile in 2023. He also had a 36 percent whiff rate which ranked in the 96th percentile. One red flag would be his walk rate. The veteran right-hander averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings. That is something the Cardinals will hope he can cut down on in 2024.
Aside from his high walk rate, he should fit into the Cardinals bullpen quite nicely. The team needed another back-end arm to go with Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos, and the Cardinals have plenty of options for the later innings, including left-hander JoJo Romero.
Assuming their rotation can keep them in games, facing the back end of the Cardinals bullpen will be no easy task for their opponents.
The Cardinals also added Andrew Kittredge in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. He and Middleton should give the bullpen a major boost after a dreadful 2023 season. A return to the playoffs is definitely in play.