photo: Lance Lynn (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)
In their quest to add innings to a thin rotation, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed journeyman starting pitcher Lance Lynn, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Right-hander Lance Lynn and the St. Louis Cardinals are in agreement on a one-year contract with a club option that guarantees around $10 million, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Lynn, 36, was drafted by Cardinals and returns, pending physical, as they rebuild rotation.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 20, 2023
The one-year contract reportedly has a base of $10 million plus $3 million in incentives and a $12 million club option or $1 million buyout for 2025, per various unconfirmed reports. That makes the minimum guaranteed $11 million for one year. The maximum could be $25 million for two years.
Lynn, 36, was a first (compensation) round pick by the Cardinals in the 2008 draft and reached St. Louis in 2011. He was a part of the 2011 World Series champions and received the first of two career All-Star berths in 2012. However, when Lynn attained free agency for the first time, after the 2017 season, the Cardinals did not try to resign him.
In the six years since then, Lynn has pitched for five teams – the Twins, Yankees, Rangers, White Sox and Dodgers. His greatest success was in Chicago, as he finished among the top six in the American League Cy Young Award balloting in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Prior to Lynn reaching free agency, the Pale Hose sent him to the Dodgers at the 2023 trade deadline. Between the two stops in his difficult age 35-36 season, the durable right-hander served up an MLB-high 44 long balls on the way to a 5.73 ERA. Lynn fanned 191 and walked 67 in 183 2/3 innings.
What is next?
Looking to the days and weeks ahead, the question remains whether the Cardinals will compete for and win the services of any true front-line starting pitchers, as Lynn no longer fits that bill. Still, they may have plans to add just one other starter.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was quoted recently as saying his club intends to acquire two starters and a swingman this offseason, an apparent step back from his earlier comment that three new starters were desired. Lynn appears to be one of the pair of new starters.
In the club’s tentative 2024 rotation, Lynn is expected to join Steven Matz and Miles Mikolas, two incumbents with questions of their own. The former was moved to the bullpen for part of 2023 due to ineffectiveness and the latter was MLB’s hits allowed leader last season (226).
Once Lynn’s signing is official, the Cardinals’ 40-man roster will be at 37 players.
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