St. Louis Cardinals rumors: Aaron Nola link, Japanese pitcher intrigue, a true wild card target

St. Louis Cardinals Rumors: Is Aaron Nola a free-agency fit? Scouts sent to watch Shota Imanaga pitch in Japan. Is Sonny Gray a target?

St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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St. Louis Cardinals Rumors: Does Sonny Gray make sense as a free-agent target?

While Jordan Montgomery is the most common mid-tier starting pitcher associated with the Cardinals free agency plans, Sonny Gray isn't a bad backup. Gray's numbers this season with the Minnesota Twins have been impressive -- he has a 3.06 ERA in 26 starts. Plus, he's likely to pick up some more postseason experience with the Twins expected to win the AL Central.

Gray's deal is up at the end of this season, and in what's expected to be a crowded pitching market, he'll surely command a multiyear contract north of $20 million per season. If the Cardinals view him as top of the rotation talent, then that's not a bad asking price.

At the All-Star Game, Gray discussed a desire to play closer to come (which for him is Nashville, TN). Josh Jacobs of Redbird Rants discussed this factor and more in his synopsis of why Gray makes sense in a Cards uniform:

"Off the field, Gray talked about at the All-Star Game this year that he's already begun to have thoughts about retiring from baseball, desiring to be closer to home (Nashville, TN) so he can spend more time with his family. Gray still made it sound very unlikely that he'd retire, but it's clear that proximity to home will play a major factor in where he chooses to play baseball next year...The only two teams in baseball that are closer to Nashville than the Cardinals are the Reds and the Braves. I could see both teams making a run at Gray, but I strongly believe the Cardinals should be at the front of that bidding war. My guess is he gets somewhere around 3 years, $60 million in free agency."

St. Louis does have location in its favor, plus the money to sign Gray to a contract that fits his skill level.

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