The flood gates are officially open. The St. Louis Cardinals just became the first team to sign a big league free agent after the lockout ended, inking right-hander Drew VerHagen on a two-year, $5.5 million deal.
RHP Drew VerHagen has agreed to a two-year, $5.5M deal with the Cardinals, per source. VerHagen pitched for the Tigers from 2014-19 and played in the NPB the last two years. He will earn $2.5M in 2022 and $3M in 2023, with up to $1M in performance bonuses each season.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) March 11, 2022
VerHagen, 31, has never quite gotten any notable results in the big leagues, and he played in the NPB over the last two seasons, but he has a history of getting a ton of ground balls and the Cardinals have a history of helping former big league pitchers turn their careers back around after playing internationally.
Last season, for the Nippon Ham Fighters, VerHagen posted a 3.80 ERA over 97.0 IP. And he posted a 3.22 ERA over 111.2 IP the year before that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he swings in and out of the bullpen for the Cardinals this year.
Obviously, his stats don’t look too impressive on the surface, but that’s not an insignificant deal. This could be a smart scouting play for the Cardinals. I guess we’ll find out.