ST. LOUIS — The offseason clock has officially started for the St. Louis Cardinals. Seven players on the 2021 roster officially became free agents on Wednesday.
Pitchers Luis Garcia, J.A. Happ, Kwang Hyun Kim, Wade LeBlanc, Jon Lester, TJ McFarland and Andrew Miller were declared free agents Wednesday as their contracts expired.
Many of these pitchers were key contributors on the 2021 team.
A nine-year veteran, the Cardinals signed Garcia as a free agent on July 9, 2021, and he became one of the team's most important bullpen pieces down the stretch. In 34 appearances for the Cardinals, Garcia had a 3.24 ERA and averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
A 15-year veteran, the Cardinals acquired Happ at the 2021 trade deadline from the Twins in exchange for pitcher John Gant. Happ was solid in St. Louis, compiling a 5-2 record with a 4.00 ERA.
The Cardinals signed Kim ahead of the 2020 season out of the KBO league in South Korea. While he often struggled to go deep into games, Kim was effective in two years in St. Louis going 10-7 with a 2.97 ERA in 35 games.
The Cardinals signed the 13-year veteran LeBlanc on June 17, 2021 to help stabilize the rotation. LeBlanc was effective pitching to a 3.61 ERA before suffering a season-ending elbow injury.
Lester was arguably the Cardinals' most important in-season acquisition after the team got him in a trade with the Washington Nationals for outfielder Lane Thomas. In 12 starts with the Cardinals, Lester went 4-1 with a 4.36 ERA. In six September/October starts, Lester was one of the team's best pitchers and had a 3.67 ERA.
Another midseason free agent acquisition, McFarland became a go-to option in the Cardinals' bullpen. The journeyman reliever had an impressive 2.56 ERA in 38.2 innings in St. Louis.
Miller has been with the Cardinals since he signed a three-year $34.5 million deal ahead of the 2019 season. Miller's production has been up and down in St. Louis, and he holds a 4.34 ERA in 103.2 innings as a Cardinal.
With these pitchers entering free agency on Wednesday, the only left-handed pitcher on the Cardinals' roster is Genesis Cabrera.