The Cardinals are in agreement on a four-year, $44 million deal with left-handed starting pitcher Steven Matz, according to a report late Tuesday night from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Matz’s deal maxes out at $48 million based on incentives.
Left-hander Steven Matz and the St. Louis Cardinals are in agreement on a four-year, $44 million contract, pending physical, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Matz is coming off a career-best season and has a chance to get to $48 million and will receive a signing bonus.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 24, 2021
Matz, 30, has battled injuries and inconsistency during his seven-year career, and his 96 ERA+ is slightly below average. He experienced a major bounce-back after being dealt from the Mets to the Blue Jays prior to the 2021 season, though, posting an above-average ERA+ (115) for the first time since 2016. Over 29 starts for the Blue Jays, Matz threw for a 3.82 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP, 144 strikeouts, and 43 walks in 150.2 innings.
His 45.5% ground-ball rate ranked 19th among major league pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched in 2021, and if he keeps that performance up, he should thrive pitching in front of an infield that features three reigning Gold Glovers (Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, and Nolan Arenado) plus Edmundo Sosa, who tied for seventh in the majors (min. 100 innings) among shortstops with eight defensive runs saved.
Matz likely completes a Cardinals rotation that is also set to include Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, and Miles Mikolas. Jake Woodford also performed well in the rotation in 2021 and should provide strong depth, while the Cardinals have also publicly considered the possibility of stretching out relievers Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks in 2022 and could call upon them to start if injuries occur.