Gray enjoyed a stellar contract year in 2023. He posted a 2.79 ERA while recording 183 strikeouts in 32 starts for the Twins. The 34-year-old earned his third All-Star selection and reminded fans that he can still be a reliable option at the top of a pitching rotation.
The Cardinals were desperate for starting pitching reinforcements following the departures of Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright's retirement.
St. Louis also signed pitchers Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson to contracts last week. After the moves, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said: “I don’t think we’re looking to add starting pitching now. I think it’s — where can we improve the club overall. But I learned a long time ago — never say never,” according to Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Gibson played in the 2023 MLB season with the Baltimore Orioles, going 15-9 with a 4.73 ERA in 192 total innings, while Lynn, who played for St. Louis from 2011 to 2017, went 13-11 with a 5.73 ERA for the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.
Said Mozeliak on the earlier additions, “We brought two guys in that know how to do it, what to do, and why they’re doing it. So I think the approach of last year versus this year is just different. Again, young players may emerge. They may surprise us… But what we don’t want to end up doing is saying we’re counting on X, Y, and Z and then we end up being disappointed.”
The Cardinals finished 71-91 in 2023, good for last place in the NL Central.