St. Louis Cardinals Sign Matt Belisle to One-Year Contract


The St. Louis Cardinals added some depth to their bullpen on Tuesday, signing righthanded reliever Matt Belisle to a one-year, $3.5 million-dollar deal that could include up to $500,000 in appearance incentives.
The addition of the 34-year-old Belisle probably eliminates any chance of 2014 All-Star Pat Neshek returning to St. Louis in 2015. The Cardinals seem to be set for the time being in the ‘pen, with Trevor Rosenthal, Jordan Walden, Seth Maness, and Belisle set to occupy roles, and guys like Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, Jaime Garcia, Kevin Siegrist, Sam Freeman, and Randy Choate all potential candidates depending on varying circumstances.

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Belisle owns a less-than-stellar 4.41 career ERA and 1.369 WHIP over 524 games, including 44 starts. At least numbers-wise, he had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2014, going 4-7 with a 4.87 ERA, 1.438 WHIP, and a .292 batters average against. Granted, those numbers are probably inflated a bit by the fact that he pitched his home games at Coors Field, but his splits weren’t remarkably better on the road. So while he fortifies the experienced depth in the bullpen, Belisle didn’t exactly establish himself in 2014 as a reliable reliever deserving of a multi-million-dollar contract, especially when you consider that a pitcher like Neshek put up better numbers in 2013 and still had to settle for a minor-league contract in the days leading up to spring training this past season.

Alas, that seems to be the state of the free agent reliever market this year, as teams are willing to pay premium dollars for experienced bullpen pitchers. Case in point: we saw lefty Zach Duke, who had a 6.03 season ERA as recently as 2013 and has only really had one full season in which he showed himself to be a reliable reliever, receive a three-year, $15 million-dollar contract from the Chicago White Sox. So while it’s a bit odd that the Cardinals bit so early on Belisle and were willing to pay him as much as they did, it’s understandable that they want to establish some proven depth with Neshek likely out of the fold.