What happened. It is being reported that the Cardinals have agreed to a 2 year, $15.5 million deal with free agent RHP Miles Mikolas.
The story. The Cardinals said that finding a starting pitcher was a secondary concern to their needs of finding a centerpiece bat and a closer for their bullpen, but it’s the starting pitcher that they find first. Multiple teams involved raised the price on them a little bit, but in the end they signed Mikolas to a two year deal worth nearly $16 million after receiving more competition for him than expected.
The numbers. Miles Mikolas, 29, was drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 draft by the San Diego Padres. He made his debut in 2012 out of the bullpen for the Padres and was traded twice in the 2013-14 offseason and ended up with the Texas Rangers. In 2014, he posted a 6.44 ERA over 10 MLB starts.
After getting released by the Rangers, Mikolas went to pitch for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Over the last three seasons for Yomiuri, Mikolas went 31-13 with a 2.18 ERA over 62 starts and 424.2 innings in Japan.
The impact. 5/10. It’s not huge, but it is starting pitching help for an organization that has a deep talent of pool there but serious questions about where they are going to get innings from.
That deep pool of talent has been noted by many since the first report broke, with many suggesting that it creates an opportunity to trade some of that talent which may be the case. But in my opinion, another starting pitcher that you can lean on is what this club needed. Teams that get the most innings out of their rotation are typically in the postseason.
Mikolas will likely slot into the rotation spot vacated by Lance Lynn‘s free agency. That pencils in the Cardinals’ rotation to be Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Luke Weaver, and now Mikolas.
With the rumors that the Marlins have an interest in Wacha, there is some suggestion that he could be headed to Miami in a pending Giancarlo Stanton trade and that Mikolas might fill his spot in the rotation. Either way, the Cardinals were going to need some starting pitching help.
Whether Mikolas provides what they need is another question. Obviously Mikolas put up dominating numbers in Japan last season, but he also did it while pitching more than anyone else. In 2017 Mikolas led NPB starting pitchers with 27 starts and 188 innings pitched. He was second in BB/9 and WHIP. He also averaged just shy of 7 innings per start.
If Mikolas was a Japanese pitcher who had never pitched in the Majors, we would probably be looking at this signing a little differently. So if Mikolas can translate what he’s learned over the past few years in Japan to the Majors, he should provide the help that the Cardinals need.
It’s also worth noting that his last pitching coach in the Majors was Mike Maddux, who the Cardinals brought in as their new pitching coach this season. Perhaps on the suggestion of Maddux. Mikolas never found success in Texas, but perhaps three years later he’s ready.