Cardinals, Sonny Gray agree to 3-year, $75 million contract

Gray finished second in AL Cy Young voting in 2023

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 07:  Sonny Gray #54 of the Minnesota Twins looks on before Game 1 of the Division Series between the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 7, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

One more pitcher has come off the free-agent market. The St. Louis Cardinals and starting pitcher Sonny Gray have agreed to a three-year, $75 million contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Gray, 34, is fresh off two impressive seasons with the Minnesota Twins. His 2023 was particularly excellent: He had a 2.79 ERA over 32 starts and 181 innings and finished second in American League Cy Young voting. For the fourth time in his career, he started more than 30 games and surpassed 175 innings pitched. He missed no time due to injury, a characteristic of his best seasons.

The 2024 season will be Gray's 12th year in the majors, and the Cardinals will be his fifth team. He debuted with the Oakland Athletics in 2013, then headed to the New York Yankees after a midseason trade in 2017. Gray's time in the Bronx was largely a disaster, but he blossomed after a trade to the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 2019 season. While he battled injuries, he also underwent a pitching renaissance, which ultimately led him to the Twins.

Gray joins an older Cardinals rotation

The Atlanta Braves were reportedly interested in signing Gray after missing out on Aaron Nola (who returned to the Philadelphia Phillies on a seven-year deal earlier in November). But the Cardinals were arguably in greater need of Gray's services. After signing Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, pitchers who are solid mid-rotation pieces, the Cardinals needed a frontline starter to fill the glaring gap at the top of their rotation.

Gray is that guy. He's older than both Nola and Blake Snell (the remaining top starter on the market), and he has a spottier history with injury and consistency, which means he was someone the Cardinals could afford.

It won't be the youngest rotation in baseball. Gray is 34. Lynn and Gibson are both 36. Steven Matz and Miles Mikolas, St. Louis' back-end starters, are 32 and 35, respectively. And as Gray's three-year contract indicates, this isn't a rotation built to stay together long-term. Matz and Mikolas are signed through 2025, while Lynn and Gibson both signed one-year deals with club options for a second year.

The Cardinals' rotation isn't going to blow anyone away, but these arms are more than capable of eating innings and putting up an occasional brilliant start. It's not ideal that four of the five starters will need to be replaced by 2026, but even so, the Cardinals will have time to figure out what's next.