By Rob Rains
The Cardinals have agreed to terms on a four-year contract with free agent pitcher Steven Matz, according to multiple media reports.
The deal for the left-handed pitcher is pending a physical, and has not been confirmed by the team.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report the news of the late-night signing on Tuesday. The deal is reportedly worth $44 million, with the possibility that the 30-year-old Matz can earn an additional $4 million.
Matz was 14-7 with the Toronto Blue Jays last season, and because the team did not extend him a qualifying offer the Cardinals will not have to give up a pick in the amateur draft next summer for signing Matz.
The Blue Jays did have interest in bringing Matz back. He also reportedly had offers from several other teams, including his original team, the Mets. Matz pitched in New York from 2015 to 2020.
In each of the last three complete seasons, 2018, 2019 and 2021, Matz has made at least 29 starts and pitched at least 150 innings.
The Cardinals also like the fact that Matz has a lower than average walk rate and a higher than average rate of inducing ground balls, which should allow him to take advantage of the team’s elite defense that included five Gold Glove winners last season, three on the infield.
Signing Matz gives the Cardinals a projected 2020 rotation of Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and Matz.
Matz had reportedly indicated that he wanted to sign with a team prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Several free agent pitchers also agreed to terms within the last several days, perhaps worried about the possibility of a lockout coming from the owners next week.
The current bargaining agreement between the players and owners expires on Dec. 1 and if a new deal is not in place by then the owners are expected to implement a lockout. That would put a freeze on free-agent signings and trades.
The two sides agreed on Monday to move up the deadline for teams to offer contracts to players for next season from Dec. 2 to Nov. 30, in advance of the possible lockout. That will allow more players to become free agents but give them one day to try to sign with a team before the current agreement expires.
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Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports