It’s no secret that the Cardinals could use another starting pitcher. Right-hander Chris Carpenter is out for the season. Left-hander Jaime Garcia remains sidelined with a left shoulder sprain.
The team, while frustrated by the high asking prices for starting pitchers, continues to perform its due diligence in the pitching market, monitoring both starters and relievers, according to major-league sources.
Among the starting pitchers who could interest the Cardinals: Mariners left-hander Jason Vargas and Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
Vargas, 9-7 with a 4.09 ERA, leads the majors with 25 home runs allowed, including 19 away from the Mariners’ home park, pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. His ERA is 2.84 at home, 5.04 on the road.
However, Vargas is on pace for his third consecutive season of 190 or more innings, and is under club control through next season.
The Mariners scouted one of the Cardinals’ top pitching prospects, Class A right-hander Tyrell Jenkins, on Monday night, according to a major-league source. It is not known whether the teams are in active discussions on Vargas or anyone else.
Rodriguez, a member of the Astros since 2005, is quite familiar to the Cardinals – and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who previously was a Cardinals’ executive, is quite familiar with the St. Louis farm system.
From 2009 to ’11, Rodriguez had a 3.36 ERA and averaged nearly 200 innings. He is performing at roughly the same level this season. After 19 starts, he is 7-7 with a 3.51 ERA.
The issue with Rodriguez is his contract – he is earning $10 million this season and $13 million next season with a $13 million club option for 2014.
The Astros, however, paid virtually all of first baseman Carlos Lee’s remaining salary when they traded him to the Marlins, and presumably are willing to include a significant amount of cash in a Rodriguez trade as well.
If the Cardinals add a starting pitcher, they would have the option of moving either right-hander Lance Lynn or righty Joe Kelly to the bullpen. They signed veteran left-handed reliever, Brian Fuentes to a minor-league contract on Saturday.
-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi