Steven Matz is migrating from the Blue Jays to the Cardinals in free agency. The left-handed starting pitcher agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with St. Louis early Wednesday morning, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. Matz is the latest starter to find a new home before Thanksgiving, as Justin Verlander, Noah Syndergaard, Eduardo Rodriguez and Anthony DeSclafani, among others, have also signed recently.
MLB free agency is expected to be paused next week with a work stoppage likely after the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on Dec. 1.
Matz went 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA (115 ERA+) and a 3.35 K/BB ratio in 29 starts (150 2/3 innings) last season with Toronto. He spent the first six seasons of his MLB career with the Mets, who traded him to the Blue Jays last offseason.
The lefty was ranked 30th in CBS Sports' list of the top 50 MLB free agents this winter. Here's what R.J. Anderson wrote about the him:
"You would have expected Matz to make tangible changes given his year-to-year transformation, from surrendering more than a run per inning to having one of the best seasons of his career, and given that he was traded from the Mets organization to the Blue Jays. He didn't. He threw as hard as he did; he threw the same pitches around the same frequencies with the same mechanics; heck, he actually missed fewer bats with his sinker and changeup. The biggest difference, as best as can be discerned from here, is that his home-run rate regressed from an unsightly 4.1 per nine to a digestible 1.1 per nine. Perhaps the lack of perceptible tweaks comes across as a bad thing, but it doesn't have to be; teams should be heartened that Matz is what he's been for years: a mid-rotation starter who, as with the lot of us, is at the mercy of the universe."
Matz was a hot name on the hot stove of late, with eight teams -- including his former employer the Mets -- linked to him. Mets owner Steve Cohen tweeted that he was upset by an agent's "unprofessional behavior' on Wednesday morning, just hours after the Matz signing was reported.
I’m not happy this morning . I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior exhibited by a player’s agent.I guess words and promises don’t matter.— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 24, 2021
Matz slots in a Cardinals rotation that also includes Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, and Miles Mikolas, which makes Matz the lone lefty. Recent injury concerns abound in that holdover group, and Wainwright is going into his age-40 campaign. As such, Matz's addition is a welcome one from the Cardinals' standpoint. If those five names are able to stay generally healthy and effective, then Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks (if healthy) will be able to remain in the bullpen.
Matz has good velocity but doesn't post strong strikeout numbers. That said, his pitch-to-contact ways are an ideal fit for St. Louis, which may have the best team defense in baseball. Looking ahead, the Cardinals, who have cleared significant payroll this offseason, may also be looking to add another high-leverage reliever before the start of the 2022 season.