SIGNED: Sonny Gray signs three-year, $75 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals

November 27, 2023

The Cardinals needed pitching, and they didn’t hesitate to capitalize on the free agent market. After reaching deals with RHP Lance Lynn and RHP Kyle Gibson on November 21, St. Louis is finalizing a three-year, $75 million contract with 34-year-old RHP Sonny Gray. The 2011 first-round draft pick will now pitch for his fifth team in his ten-year MLB career after pitching to a career year in 2023 with the Minnesota twins that landed him No. 2 in the AL Cy Young race. Gray joins the top of a Cardinals rotation that already features three-win RHP Miles Mikolas with Lynn and Gibson filling out the middle and likely one of Matthew Liberatore, Drew Rom or Zack Thompson to round it out unless St. Louis adds further.

Zooming in on 2023, Gray dazzled in 32 starts and 184 innings pitched with a 2.79 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 8.95 K% and limiting the long ball to a league best 0.39 HR/9 (among qualified pitchers). It was the first time that Gray posted a five fWAR season during his time in the majors as he anchored a Minnesota Twins rotation that finished No. 3 in the majors in opponent runs per game. For his career, the Vanderbilt product sports a 3.47 ERA with a 3.57 FIP and 11.5% HR/FB rate. It was imperative for the Cardinals to add volume and impact to their pitching staff and Gray looks like their top prize.

The three-year, $75 million contract was for the most part the expected going rate for Gray with projections anywhere from 3-year, $66 million range (Spotrac) to four-years, $90 million (MLB Trade Rumors). We’ve yet to see any team dish out a contract that would be viewed as a sizeable overpay but with just two major contracts (Aaron Nola, Gray) signed, it’s still early. The starting pitching free agent market still features Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Blake Snell at the top, both featured to command over $100 million contracts and possibly over $200 million.

What could be next for St. Louis?

The Redbirds could look to continue to add to the rotation, as they still have an over-abundance of outfielders and will look to make a deal to add impact. St. Louis does need to add to an offense that put up just 4.44 runs per game (No. 19 in MLB) and find an arm or two for the bullpen that ranked No. 23 in ERA in 2023. While Masyn Winn could take over shortstop in 2024, they could look to add veteran stability and production there after Winn posted a 29 wRC+ in his first 137 PA in the majors.

Second base will likely still be a mixture of Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman, but St. Louis could look to add another impact bat to bat primarily DH and slide Brendan Donovan into a super utility role. The bullpen ranked No. 24 in MLB in earned runs allowed and was bottom ten in the majors in blown saves (28) and needs back-end help. There are free agents such as Josh Hader, Hector Neris, Jakob Junis and Craig Kimbrel that fit this need, but one wonders how much the Cardinals plan on spending, they could look to add in this area via trade.

The winter meetings are just around the corner from December 4 to December 7 with stars like Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger still on the market and all I want for Christmas is for the stove to heat up.

Also read: SIGNED: Aaron Nola signs seven-year, $172 million contract to remain with the Philadelphia Phillies




Casey Bellon

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