ST. LOUIS -- It looks like the Cardinals played the market just right with the Lance Lynn signing. Lynn agreed to a deal on Thursday that’ll pay him $22 million over three years. That’s a major bargain in today’s market. Lynn is only 27 years old, so he figures to just be entering his prime as a pitcher. Last season he was 15-10 with a 2.74 era. He’s proven to be a durable, reliable starter for the Cardinals and one of the most underrated pitchers in the National League. Now the Cardinals have him locked up for three more years before he becomes a free agent at the end of 2017.
The cost of acquiring a good starting pitcher has skyrocketed in recent years. The Boston Red Sox gave free agent Justin Masterson $9.7 million for next season. The Justin Masterson who couldn’t get anybody out last year for the Cardinals. He went a combined 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA for the Birds and Cleveland Indians. He was rewarded with a contract paying him $9.7 million for 2015. That’s insane.
The Cubs resigned Jason Hammel to a two year, $18 million dollar deal. He was 10-11, 3.47 ERA in 2014. The Twins gave Ervin Santana a four year, $55 million dollar contract-- or about $14 million a season. Santana was 14-10, 3.95 ERA. I’d take Lynn in a heartbeat over Santana, Hammel or Masterson, and Lynn will be paid considerably less than those three.
Do the Cardinals still have money left to make a play at Max Scherzer, David Price or Cole Hamels? Bill DeWitt will have to make that call, but the guess here is that the Cardinals will land one of those three. Hamels would seem to make the most sense. He’s signed for another four years and $94 million. He’d cost the Cardinals two or three good young players in return, but his salary wouldn’t break the bank and he’d give the Cardinals the strongest rotation in the National League. No team could match a rotation of Adam Wainright, Cole Hamels, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and John Lackey. In fact, that could be one of the strongest rotations that the Cardinals have ever assembled.
For now, let’s be happy with the Lance Lynn signing. Having him under control at a reasonable salary for another three years is major coup for the Cardinals.