MLB Rumors: Shane Bieber trade buzz, Yankees reunion dies, Cardinals surprise

  • Shane Bieber unlikely to be traded
  • Yankees chances at reunion with Jordan Montgomery appear to be dead
  • Former Cardinals reliever signs surprise NPB deal

Atlanta Braves v Cleveland Guardians
Atlanta Braves v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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MLB Rumors: Former Cardinals reliever signs surprise NPB deal

The St. Louis Cardinals had an incredibly rough 2023 season, going 71-91 and missing out on the postseason despite entering the season as NL Central favorites. A big reason the Cardinals had such a miserable year was because their pitching staff collapsed. Their rotation was a mess all year, and their bullpen, while better, was far from perfect.

For all of the talk about how bad their rotation was, the Cardinals bullpen ranked 23rd in ERA. Ryan Helsley missed substantial time due to injury, and Giovanny Gallegos had a down year. One reliever who surprised in a big way was Drew VerHagen who was probably their second-best reliever behind Helsley.

The Cardinals signed VerHagen to a two-year deal ahead of the 2022 season following a successful stint in Japan. After a rough first season in St. Louis, VerHagen bounced back by posting a 3.98 ERA in 60 appearances and 61 innings of work. He made the second most appearances coming out of the Cardinals bullpen, and was one of few players Oli Marmol could actually rely upon to be productive.

Despite his solid year, VerHagen appears headed back to Japan, as FanSided's Robert Murray reported that the right-hander signed a one-year deal with the Nippon-Ham Fighters which includes a player option for a second season. Presumably, if VerHagen pitches well in Japan he'll look to come back to MLB for another stint. If he doesn't, he'd likely stay in Japan.

It's not a surprise to see the Cardinals want a fresh start, but it is surprising VerHagen couldn't find a MLB deal elsewhere following what was a successful season for him.