Back in 2013, Michael Wacha made his Major League debut for the St. Louis Cardinals. He impressed the team in several of his starts down the stretch and even almost threw a no-hitter against the Washington Nationals on September 24.
By the time the postseason rolled around, he was the No. 2 starter behind Adam Wainwright. Wacha won Game 4 of the NLDS against the Pittsburgh Pirates with the team facing elimination and earned NLCS MVP honors after beating Clayton Kershaw twice. He finished that postseason with a 4-1 record and an ERA of 2.64.
10 years later, Wacha has done quite well for the San Diego Padres. In 22 starts, he's 12-4 with a 3.44 ERA and will even face his old club on Sunday. He signed a four-year deal with San Diego over the winter, but he could potentially opt out and hit free agency again. If so, might the Cardinals come calling for his services?
MLB Rumors: Could the Cardinals target key Padres pitcher in free agency?
Wacha's time in St. Louis was a mixed bag. He was an All-Star in addition to his NLCS MVP Award, but injuries took their toll on the veteran right-hander. His final season in St. Louis ended in disappointment due to a shoulder injury as he finished with a 4.76 ERA.
The right-hander made brief stops with the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays before the Boston Red Sox took a chance on him. He rediscovered his old form in Boston, going 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 23 starts in 2022.
Since then, Wacha has been a steady force in the Padres rotation.
Obviously, for the Cardinals to have a chance at bringing him back this offseason, he'll have to opt out of his deal with the Padres. But St. Louis needs three starters this winter, as President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has repeatedly stated.
Wacha is somebody with ties to the organization, and he also brings some solid postseason experience with him, which will be missing when Adam Wainwright's retirement becomes official.
Remaining healthy will be the key for the 32-year-old, but if he can stay off the injured list, he could continue this upward trend in St. Louis. Wacha isn't an ace-level pitcher by any means, but he could profile as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, which would leave room for the Cardinals to target somebody like Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, or even Sonny Gray.