The St. Louis Cardinals have plenty of optimism entering the 2021 season.
Spring Training is here, and that means optimistic clichés for every team in Major League Baseball. That includes the St. Louis Cardinals, which are coming off a high in recent weeks after trading for Nolan Arenado, and agreeing to deals with longtime franchise stalwarts Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina.
With every other club in the NL Central failing to make too many additions this offseason, the Cardinals are far and away the favorites to take the division. Their one supposed weakness could be the starting rotation, but reports emerging about the bounce-back potential of Carlos Martinez suggest otherwise. Martinez pitched well in the Dominican Winter League with Águilas Cibaeñas, and is carrying that level of production to Spring Training with the Cards.
Will the real Carlos Martinez please stand up?
“I’m 100% focused in my mind. Focused on my workout. Focused on working hard. Right now I feel great,” Martinez said as he reported to Spring Training on Wednesday.
Martinez is entering a contract year, making it all the more important that he produces for the Cardinals in a potential pennant race. He made the All-Star team in 2017, but since has battled injuries and has had to play curious roles for St. Louis, including serving as the team’s closer in 2019.
Whatever role the Cards decide to go with Martinez in 2021, he’ll have a point to prove. In the shortened 2020 season, Martinez pitched just five games with a 9.90 ERA.
Still, regardless of his statistical success, it’s unlikely the Cards pick up Martinez’s 2022 option of $17 million. But, any sort of success could see him land a multi-year deal in free agency next Winter.