The Cardinals have signed starter Jake Westbrook to an extension that runs through 2013 along with a mutual option for 2014, the team announced today. Westbrook was signed through 2012 and had a mutual option for 2013, but that won’t be necessary now with the new deal.
So far in 2012 Westbrook is the owner of a modest 12-9 record with a 3.50 ERA. His line would look a bit better if he didn’t get off to a sub-par start pre-all-star break. Since the break, Westbrook
is 5-2, with a 2.96 ERA in 7 starts. He also possesses the National League’s best ground ball percentage at 73.3%.
The Cardinals now have 4/5th of their rotation signed through 2013. The only player excluded from this is presumably Kyle Lohse. The likelihood of Lohse returning is now very low unless he takes a hometown discount, which we know how that theory has worked in the past. If Lohse isn’t resigned, it’s because he’s basically pitched his way into deserving more money. With a 12-2 record and an ERA of 2.91, you could legitimately make the case that he should be, and likely will be, paid as at least a number two starter or even an ace.
With Carpenter and Wainwright both expected to be anchoring the top of the rotation, that would leave Kyle Lohse as the number three guy. So it looks like the rotation next year will look something like this (in order): Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia, Westbrook, TBA. That number five-spot is the big question. The owner of that role will likely be a young rookie who has to win the job. Candidates for that role will probably include the likes of Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, and Trevor Rosenthal, among others.
Chris Carpenter is set up to return next year but there is still some uncertainty. Now with Westbrook resigned, the team at least gets some veteran insurance in case ‘Carp falters. The Cardinals will presumably offer something around the 1-year, $13 million dollar contract minimum to Lohse in order to get a draft pick if he signs elsewhere.