While you never wish for injury — even to your biggest rival, that is exactly what has happened as the Cardinals have lost Lance Lynn for the 2016 season. The RHP has undergone Tommy John surgery.
The question now becomes how the Cardinals expect to compensate for that loss. Adam Wainwright is coming off an injury and top SP prospect Anthony Reyes has been suspended for 50 games, though a loophole exists that if they bring him up to the 40 man roster, he’ll no longer have to serve the suspension.
We shouldn’t rejoice too gleefully as the injury could have unintended consequences in the Cubs own pursuit of pitching. While the Cardinals have never pursued high ticket pitchers and have been successful under that philosophy, circumstances may change things.
Mozeliak acknowledges Lynn injury alters offseason plan. Team has not done big free-agent deals for pitchers. Could change. #cardinals
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) November 10, 2015
I still don’t see the Cardinals going after David Price or Zack Greinke — they’re replacing a solid pitcher, not a true ace, but they’ll be competition for the Cubs in terms of being opportunistic in seeking good value from a 2nd tier or mid-rotation pitcher. It could also just mean they will make a more concerted effort to bring back John Lackey.
The Cardinals also will likely need to replace Jason Heyward, who will almost certainly fall out of their price range. Some rumors have them connected to Chris Davis to add some power, a weapon they lacked last season, But having to spread the money out now between Davis and a pitcher probably means they’re not going after the arms at the very top. It seems that a short term pitcher probably makes the most sense since Lynn will be back in 2017 — but whether that is in addition to Lackey remains to be seen. Also a factor is whether the Cardinals — a team that succeeds through volume in the draft, would be less reluctant to give up a draft pick to sign a player.
Suddenly the Cardinals are finding themselves having to patch some holes this offseason, though their depth gives them some leverage. They have Reyes and also Marco Gonzales who could fill spots cheaply. They could also trade some of their prospect depth for a more established pitcher — perhaps some off the very same ones the Cubs are pursuing, though the Cubs are looking to match up with teams that are seeking RH power bats, something the Cardinals lack.
The Cardinals are usually a team that flies under the radar in the offseason, but it will be interesting to see if circumstances make them a team to watch now.
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