ST. LOUIS — As the Cardinals try to address and build some pitching depth for their rotation, they have brought back a former Texas Rangers starter from his successful turn in Japan's top league.
Miles Mikolas has agreed to a two-year contract with the Cardinals, the Post-Dispatch has confirmed, and the agreement will be announced shortly by the team. The deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports. The Athletic reports it's worth between $14 million and $16 million.
Mikolas, 29, spent the previous three seasons as a starter for Yomuiri and he went 31-13 with a 2.81 ERA in 62 games, all of them starts. The righthander, who was born in Jupiter, Fla., struck out 378 batters in 424 2/3 innings for the Giants. If there is a statistic that signals the shift that his game took in Japan it's that he became ruthlessly stingy with his walks. He had am 8.13 strikeouts/walk rate this past season.
The last time he pitched in the majors, Mikolas (pronounced MY-koh-lahs) started 10 games for the Rangers in 2014 and had a 6.44 ERA in 57 1/3 innings. His pitching coach in Texas was Mike Maddux, who the Cardinals hired in late October to be their pitching coach.
His turn in Japan had attracted offers from several teams looking to add to their rotation.
The Cardinals are, in part, looking to fill needed innings in the rotation but have also been involved in trade conversations that would include at least one of their prized pitching prospects, including potential starters Sandy Alcantara and Jack Flaherty.
Mikolas, a seventh-round pick in 2009 by San Diego, earned the nickname "Lizard King" by eating a live lizard while he was a member of the Padres organization. There is a video of him, and the whole scene has become a GIF that helped spread his feat and his nickname.