The Cardinals announced on Monday that they have declined their $9MM club option on right-hander Jonathan Broxton. He’ll instead be paid a $2MM buyout and hit the open market, where he’s free to sign with any club. Additionally, the Cardinals announced that they have outrighted shortstop Pete Kozma off the 40-man roster along with catchers Ed Easley and Travis Tartamella.
Acquired from the division-rival Brewers in exchange for minor leaguer Malik Collymore at this year’s trade deadline, Broxton enjoyed an excellent turnaround in St. Louis after an ugly start in the Milwaukee ‘pen. Sporting a 5.89 ERA at the time of the trade, Broxton worked to a 2.66 ERA with a 26-to-12 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings with the Cardinals. While his ERA, strikeout rate and ground-ball rates took a notable turn for the better following the trade, Broxton’s control was actually better with the Brewers. Overall, ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA all pegged him for an ERA in the mid- to low-3.00 range. (xFIP and SIERA, specifically, liked his work, giving him a pass on what looks to have been a fluky homer-to-flyball ratio that inflated his ERA and FIP.)
Kozma, 27, received 111 plate appearances for the Cardinals in 2015 but batted just .152/.236/.152. Known for his defensive wizardry, it’s been two seasons since Kozma was the team’s regular shortstop. That 2013 campaign proved to be the only in Kozma’s five-year career in which he’s received regular at-bats, to this point. The former first-round pick batted just .217/.275/.273 that season, which was weak enough for him to grade out as replacement level despite being one of the game’s better defenders at shortstop.
The 29-year-old Easley and 27-year-old Tartamella each made their big league debuts in 2015, though Easley went 0-for-6 and Tartamella just 1-for-2 in their brief cups of coffee. Easley is a lifetime .289/.360/.420 hitter in nearly 300 games at the Triple-A level and has enough minor league experience to qualify as a free agent. Tartamella, too, has the minor league service to become a free agent, though he doesn’t have the offensive track record that Easley carries. Tartamella is a .229/.276/.289 hitter in his Triple-A career, though he’s regarded as a solid defender behind the dish.