A new CBA is in place, effectively putting an end to the MLB lockout.
Free agency and trades are now permitted, as we wave goodbye to the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history
And the free agent market is already churning, as the first post-lockout signing was made today.
According to Bob Nightengale, the deal is worth $5.5 million.
Per Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, VerHagen will compete for a spot in St. Louis’ rotation but can also slot into a relief role.
The first official free-agent signing post lockout: RHP Drew VerHagen signed a 2-year, $5.5 million contract with the #STLCards. The former #Tigers pitcher spent the past 2 years in Japan. He will compete for a starting job but could be used in relief, per president John Mozeliak
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 11, 2022
The Cards’ pitching staff was ravaged by injuries in 2021, which took them out of contention until they pieced together a 17-game winning streak to secure the second NL Wild Card.
The Cards’ bullpen struggled for a time as a result, and with Luis Garcia signing with the San Diego Padres prior to the lockout, St. Louis needed somebody to replace him as they try and strengthen their pitching staff in 2022.
VerHagen made his Major League debut in 2014 with the Detroit Tigers, but has played with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan over the past two years, compiling a 13-14 record and a 3.49 ERA
With the rotation already featuring five strong starters in Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Steven Matz, and Miles Mikolas, VerHagen will most likely earn a role out of St. Louis’ bullpen.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, bullpen depth was front and center on the Cards’ offseason wish list, and VerHagen helps add some valuable experience.
The Cardinals had previously re-signed lefty T.J. McFarland to a one-year deal.