The Cardinals have signed veteran lefty Kyle Ryan to a minor league contract, per a team announcement. Ryan, represented by Frontline, will receive an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
The Cards ought to be plenty familiar with Ryan, having watched the 30-year-old southpaw in the bullpen for the division-rival Cubs in each of the past three seasons. Ryan’s best year came back in 2019, when he logged a 3.54 ERA and 3.85 FIP with a 22.3% strikeout rate, 11.2% walk rate and huge 58.2% grounder rate in 61 innings.
While Ryan has scuffled with a 5.90 ERA in 29 frames since that time, he’s continued to post high-end ground-ball rates, which no doubt appeals to a St. Louis club that boasts an all-world defensive infield. Each of Nolan Arenado, Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt are among the game’s best at their respective positions, with each of Goldschmidt, Arenado and Edman winning a Gold Glove this past season.
Ryan’s fastball sits at just 89 mph, but he’s never logged a ground-ball rate lower than 46.9%. He’s allowed eight home runs over the past two seasons in those 29 innings, but even with that uncharacteristic spike in round-trippers, he’s still averaged just 0.99 HR/9 in his MLB career. In 218 innings between the Tigers and Cubs, Ryan owns a 4.05 ERA and 54.8% ground-ball rate.
The Cardinals kicked off the winter be re-signing left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland to a one-year contract, and southpaw Genesis Cabrera could very well have a bullpen spot locked down after a solid season of relief work. Well-traveled lefty Brandon Waddell is also on the 40-man roster, but he still has a minor league option remaining.