According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed right-handed pitcher Drew VerHagen to two-year contract worth $5.5M ($2.5K in 2022 & $3M in 2023) with an additional $1M in incentives available each season.
The 31-year old VerHagen has spent the past two seasons pitching in Japan for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, where he posted a 3.51 ERA over 38 games.
Prior to pitching in Japan, the 6’6” righty struggled in his six MLB seasons with the Detroit Tigers. From 2014-2019, Drew went 10-10 with a 5.11 ERA in over 199 innings (8 starts/119 relief appearances).
VerHagen will likely begin the 2022 season in the Cardinals bullpen, as that has been his role. However, according to Feinsand, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak was quoted as saying "We believe he will compete for a starting job but could easily transition to the bullpen if needed,".
It’s a rather surprising move coming out of the lockout, but given the Cardinals track record of taking fliers on pitchers who have pitched in the Korean Baseball Organization & Japan’s Nippon Professional Basaball, it makes sense.
Miles Mikolas, Kwang-Hyun Kim & recent addition Aaron Brooks all spent time overseas before signing with the Cardinals.
The Cardinals like what they have seen in VerHagen’s last couple of seasons, with a 94 mph sinker in his repertoire, but also his near 54% ground ball rate on batted balls in his major league career.