Steven Matz did not give the Mets a chance to match a final offer and agreed Nov. 23 on a reported four-year, $44 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals rather than make a New York homecoming. Mets owner Steve Cohen called out the LHP's agent the following day, Nov. 24, on Twitter and explained why in a subsequent quote to SNY's Andy Martino.
A week later, the Cardinals introduced Matz via a Zoom call Monday with the media. While Matz was not asked directly about the Mets fallout, he did have a few reasons behind his decision to ink with St. Louis.
"I'm extremely excited," Matz said. "I felt the same way -- the free-agency process was a lot of fun for me, learning about different teams and taking different Zoom calls and kind of dreaming (about) where you're going to spend the next few years. And the Cardinals just felt like a great fit, ultimately, and an extremely exciting team with incredible defense. The thought of throwing to (catcher) Yadier Molina is extremely exciting.
"So I'm extremely excited. Some of the best fans in baseball. I know firsthand from pitching there. Once I made the decision, I got a lot of texts and calls from different guys. And across the game, everyone just says what a great organization that is and what a great fanbase. And so, that just validated it even more for me. And so, I'm just extremely excited and I can't wait to get going."
Matz, who turns 31 next May, went a personal-best 14-7 in 2021 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Pitching to a career-low 3.82 ERA, Matz recorded 144 strikeouts to 43 walks in 150.2 innings over 29 starts.
"With the kind of the situation we have looming, with us here, definitely, talking with my wife Taylor, we wanted to have some certainty on where we're going to be," Matz said of attending the GM Meetings. "And so, ultimately, it kind of worked out that I was in San Diego. My wife's a musician. She was playing some shows out there.
"And so, it just kind of worked out good. And so, ultimately, that was definitely like, 'Hey, we want to have some certainty.' And so, I think that was a good opportunity to kind of move the ball forward with that."
Prior to Toronto, the Mets made Matz -- a Long Island native by way of Ward Melville High School -- a second-round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. Matz went 31-41 with a 4.35 ERA in 579.2 innings pitched over 112 regular-season games (107 starts), striking out 552 while walking 180 over the six seasons of action.
"Over the years, I've had a lot of ups and downs, throughout the career," Matz said. "And I would say, the last three years, I really started to get an identity of who I am as a pitcher -- and especially last year. I do give a lot of credit to the Blue Jays and Pete Walker over there. To give me that opportunity to bring me to this point, I am extremely grateful and he did help me a lot over there, really find that identity.
"But I think that's the biggest thing -- is finding that identity, as far as all the way from nutrition to strength training to throwing bullpens to all the way to making pitches. And so, I think that's the biggest thing and I continue to try to hone in on that and I believe that the staff over there in St. Louis is going to continue to help me and I believe in them a lot. And so, I'm excited about that relationship over there as well."