Cardinals sign right-hander Wittgren to one-year deal

March 13th, 2022

JUPITER, Fla. – Continuing to add arms to their bullpen ahead of Monday’s first Spring Training workout, the Cardinals signed right-handed reliever to a one-year contract on Sunday.

Wittgren, 30, has pitched in the Majors for six seasons with the Miami Marlins (2016-18) and Cleveland Guardians (2019-21). He’s compiled an 18-15 record with a 3.75 ERA while striking out 265 batters in 271 1/3 innings. He’s also recorded five saves -- all of them coming with Cleveland.

The Cardinals are set to hold their first official Major League Spring Training workout on Monday. The team will play 15 Spring Training games, starting with Friday’s game at Roger Dean Stadium against the Houston Astros. The Cardinals open the regular season on April 7 at Busch Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wittgren, who will wear No. 30 with the Cardinals, is the second reliever signed this week. The Cardinals reached a two-year deal with versatile reliever/starter Drew VerHagen on Friday. With Giovanny Gallegos almost certain to be the closer, Wittgren and VerHagen will compete for setup roles with Ryan Helsley, Génesis Cabrera, T.J. McFarland and former closers Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks.

Wittgren went 2-9 in 2021 with a 5.05 ERA, but he set career highs in appearances (60), innings pitched (62 1/3) and strikeouts (61). He also made the first start of his career last season.

Wittgren has been especially good at stranding inherited runners in recent years. Since 2016, he ranks sixth in MLB in allowing just 19.8% of inherited runners to score. Also, he ranks 20th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.49) among pitchers with at least 250 appearances since 2016.