St. Louis Cardinals Rumors

St. Louis Cardinals trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Cardinals Hire Randy Flores As Director Of Amateur Scouting

The Cardinals have hired former Major League left-hander Randy Flores as their new director of amateur scouting, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cards looked at candidates from other teams before turning to Flores, who retired from the game as a player following the 2010 season, per Goold.

Since retiring, the now-40-year-old Flores returned to USC to complete a master’s degree in education and serve as the baseball team’s assistant coach. He also founded his own company, OnDeck Digital, which uses video capture technology to allow baseball and softball players to critique their own game. Scouts also use the technology to gain access to of video on prospects/players, and 11 Major League teams currently use the service, Goold adds.

Flores spent parts of five seasons in the Cardinals’ bullpen, totaling a 4.35 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 178 innings. He totaled 250 innings in the Majors, working primarily as a left-handed specialist and accumulating a career ERA of 4.61. Flores won a World Series ring with St. Louis in 2006.

The need for a scouting director, of course, is due to the firing of former director Chris Correa, who was dismissed earlier this summer after admitting to having a role in the Cardinals’ breach of the Astros’ computer network.


AL Notes: Rays, Kaminsky, Washington, Park

Marc Topkin runs through the Rays roster to identify six players who have made the most of opportunities to provide surprising value this year in Tampa Bay. Logan Forsythe, added via trade before the 2014 campaign, has arguably been the best of them, putting up a .279/.360/.434 slash with 14 home runs and nine steals while playing multiple infield positions. Forsythe has lined himself up for a nice raise on his $1.1MM arb salary from this season. And a player added just before this season, righty Erasmo Ramirez, has somewhat quietly compiled 123 innings of 3.66 ERA pitching on the year. Ramirez won’t even reach arb eligibility until 2017, making him a nice asset for the future.

Here are a few more notes from around the American League:

  • When the Indians managed to pry young lefty Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals in the Brandon Moss deal, reactions were overwhelmingly positive for Cleveland. Indians GM Chris Antonetti tells Jim Ingraham of Baseball America that he likes Kaminsky’s fastball life, groundball tendencies, command of the zone, and overall pitch mix. Cleveland is not concerned about Kaminsky’s light frame, and intends to give him every chance to reach the big leagues as a starter. The 20-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 2.24 ERA in 104 1/3 innings at the High-A level on the season.
  • The Athletics have named Ron Washington as the team’s third base coach to replace Mike Gallego, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It was somewhat curious to see the move made now, but the team has struggled with baserunning issues of late and Washington will now have a chance to coach in uniform during games. (He had been prohibited from doing so because of rules limiting the number of uniformed staff.) Nothing more should be read into the decision, writes Slusser, as manager Bob Melvin is still expected to be locked up to a new deal after the season.
  • The Twins have scouted Korean slugger Byung-ho Park “a lot” ever since he was a sixteen-year-old, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the increasingly interesting first baseman still seems likely to land elsewhere if he’s posted this winter, Wolfson adds.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Utley, Angels, Zobrist, Zimmermann, Giants, Execs

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal looks at the failed attempt to acquire Chase Utley made by both the Angels and Cubs. Anaheim “blew it” by not adding Utley, opines Rosenthal, as the Halos had more playing time to offer than the Dodgers but didn’t pull the trigger on a deal despite only having acquired “complementary hitters” in July. (That seems harsh, as there’s no guarantee that the current iteration of Utley is anything more than a complementary piece himself.) As for the Cubs, they initially showed interest while Utley was still hurt, but Utley wasn’t comfortable being traded while on a rehab assignment, says Rosenthal, so the Phils waited to put him through waivers. By the time he returned, Howie Kendrick had been hurt in L.A., creating a match with the Dodgers.

Some more highlights from the column…

  • As others have noted, the Angels‘ GM opening is a tough sell to prospective candidates because Arte Moreno is more involved than the average owner, and Mike Scioscia has more power than the average manager. One rival general manager described the Angels’ GM role to Rosenthal as such: “You take all of the beatings (from Moreno) and you’ve got no power (due to Scioscia).” Jerry Dipoto resigned from his post this summer due to reported clashes with Scioscia.
  • The Blue Jays tried to trade for Ben Zobrist, but the Athletics‘ asking price was Matt Boyd plus other pieces, Rosenthal hears, which was too steep for GM Alex Anthopoulos. Boyd was ultimately one of three pieces used to acquire David Price from the Tigers.
  • Rosenthal reports that the Giants are likely to pursue right-hander Jordan Zimmermann as they look to bulk up their rotation this offseason. However, he notes that the Wisconsin native may prefer to return to the Midwest. Zimmermann ranked eighth on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, though he’s had a couple of rough starts since then.
  • The Giants may also consider attempting to unload the final year of Angel Pagan‘s contract this winter. Pagan is slated to earn $10MM next season in the final season of a four-year, $40MM contract after playing in just 167 games from 2013-14 and struggling at the plate in 102 games to this point in 2015. San Francisco could use Gregor Blanco in center field in the event that they’re able to move Pagan.
  • The recent trend of teams promoting an assistant GM to GM and a current GM to president (as the White Sox and Giants have done) could continue this offseason as teams try to prevent their top AGMs from departing for GM vacancies elsewhere, Rosenthal writes. The Rangers could promote Thad Levine to GM (and presumably elevate Jon Daniels), for instance, and the Cardinals could promote Mike Girsch (presumably promoting GM John Mozeliak as well). And, should Mark Shapiro end up with the Blue Jays, the Indians could bump Mike Chernoff to GM and make Chris Antonetti president (Cleveland previously did his by moving Shapiro from GM to president and Antonetti from AGM to GM). Levine, Girsch and Chernoff could all attract interest from other teams this winter.


Cafardo On Dombrowski, De Aza, Buchholz, Lackey

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe runs down the candidates for the Red Sox GM job.  Frank Wren, who has a history with new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, is believed to be the favorite for the gig, but there are many other candidates who could be in the mix.  Cafardo runs down several intriguing names, including ex-Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd.  For what it’s worth, O’Dowd told Cafardo that he enjoys his current job as an MLB Network analyst and has no idea whether Dombrowski would consider him for a position.  Here’s more from Cafardo….

  • In addition to the Dodgers, the Giants also had interest in acquiring Red Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza after he cleared waivers, but they felt the asking price was too high, Cafardo writes.  Boston acquired De Aza from the Orioles in early June and one has to imagine that the NL West clubs were drawn to him, in part, because he would have served as a highly-affordable rental.  The Red Sox were on the hook for only $1MM of his salary after acquiring him from Baltimore.
  • Ben Cherington probably would have picked up the $13MM option on the injury-prone Clay Buchholz, but Cafardo isn’t sure if Dombrowski will do the same.  One AL GM told Cafardo that Buchholz would likely be in line for “around $15MM on a three-year deal” if he were to hit the open market.
  • Cafardo doesn’t buy the theory that the Red Sox hired Dombrowski quickly in order to give him more time to trade Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez.  To deal either of the struggling sluggers, Boston “would have to eat major money and that may not be in the cards.”
  • Sources close to Cardinals hurler John Lackey tell Cafardo that the veteran wants to stay in the National League because he’s had an easier time pitching there.  St. Louis has interest in a reunion, though not on a lengthy contract since Lackey turns 37 in October.
  • Tigers adviser Scott Reid has been mentioned as someone Dombrowski could bring with him to the Red Sox, but at this time, Dombrowski has not asked permission to speak with Detroit executives.  Many of those execs also received promotions after Dombrowski’s departure, so it’s not clear if they can be lured away.
  • Agent Alan Nero believes there will be a ripe market for Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park. “We’re just preparing for the process right now,” Nero said. “We believe there’s going to be a lot of interest as there was with [Jung Ho] Kang. Major league teams certainly covet right-handed power.” The Red Sox have been scouting the Nexen Heroes star for most of the season and Cafardo suggests that they could platoon him with left-handed-batter Travis Shaw. Even though Park could carry a notable price tag via the posting system, that could be cheaper for the Sox than going after the likes of Chris Davis or Justin Morneau on the open market.

NL Central Notes: Cubs, Brewers, Bourjos

The Cubs have backed out of their $1M deal with Dominican third baseman Christopher Martinez due to an unknown problem with his physical, Baseball America’s Ben Badler writes. The Cubs made Martinez a new offer of $50K, but he rejected it. Martinez was one of a huge number of high-profile signings for the Cubs in the international signing period that began last month. As Badler notes, this isn’t the first time a noteworthy contract with an international signee has fallen apart due to health concerns — the Blue Jays, for example, rescinded an $800K deal with Venezuelan infielder Luis Castro in 2012, and Castro later signed with the Rockies. Here’s more from the NL Central.

  • The Brewers are only beginning their search for a GM to replace Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. It’s unclear at this point if they will hire someone within the organization or from outside it, and any speculation is premature at this point.
  • The Cardinals have had a string of injuries in their outfield, but Peter Bourjos remains glued to their bench, as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com writes. Even with Jon Jay, Randal Grichuk and Matt Holliday out, and with Jason Heyward dealing with a minor injury, Bourjos hasn’t played much, with the team lately favoring Tommy Pham in center. Pham had been hitting well for Triple-A Memphis. “[We are] seeing if we can catch a little lightning from what he was doing in Memphis, and that does create a tough situation for Bourjos to get going,” says manager Mike Matheny. With Bourjos still on the big-league roster, he hasn’t had as many opportunities to get in a groove. He’s hitting .214/.312/.329 this season, and as Langosch notes, he hasn’t had a hit since July 19.

NL Notes: Hamilton, LeCure, Adams, Seager

Let’s take a look at a few notes from the National League:

  • The Reds announced yesterday that speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton will hit the DL, with C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer adding on Twitter that Hamilton suffered a sprained capsule in his right shoulder. It’s not clear at this point how long Hamilton will miss, though he’ll obviously have plenty of time to work back to health over the offseason regardless. It’s been a trying season for the 24-year-old, who continues to draw strong defensive ratings and put up huge stolen base tallies but has hit just .226/.272/.290. He’s still a good bet for a regular role in 2016, when he’ll be looking to increase his production in advance of arbitration.
  • Cincinnati also brought back righty Sam LeCure, who’d spent the entire season at Triple-A. The 31-year-old struggled in the minors as he played out the second year of his extension, and figures as a likely non-tender candidate this fall.
  • Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams is nearly at full-speed in his rehab progression, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He seems to be slightly ahead of Jon Jay and Matt Holliday, who are also looking to return in the coming weeks. St. Louis is also dealing with injuries to outfielders Jason Heyward and Randal Grichuk, and could theoretically look to add another bat, though it appears that the club will begin to welcome back some key pieces in relatively short order.
  • Top Dodgers prospect Corey Seager played third base the last two days at Triple-A, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes on Twitter. The 21-year-old has spent some time there previously and has cooled off at the plate since moving up to the top level of the minors, so it’s not entirely clear that a promotion is imminent. But as Shaikin notes, with the club designating Alberto Callaspo for assignment last night, Seager could conceivably see some time at short and/or third at the big league level once rosters expand.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Hamels, Cain, Girsch, Utley

The Phillies actually preferred the Astros offer for starter Cole Hamels, but the lefty ultimately used his no-trade protection to block the trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Included in the rejected deal were outfield prospect Brett Phillips and pitcher Josh Hader, both of whom went to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez trade. The Astros may have been willing to guarantee Hamels’ fourth year, but he ultimately decided against the option.

  • The Royals will have a tough time re-signing several key players. Lorenzo Cain might be the easiest, but he’ll first want to see how Jason Heyward performs on the free agent market. While Heyward is four years younger than Cain, the average annual value “could be instructive” per Rosenthal. Cain is under control for two more seasons. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon can opt out after this season, and he looks like a lock to do so. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, both clients of Scott Boras, are also under club control for two seasons.
  • Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch was a candidate for the Padres GM job opening last year. That posting was eventually filled by A.J. Preller. Girsch may be considered for other top jobs, but the Cardinals hacking scandal may put a damper on his market.
  • Chase Utley will use his no-trade rights to pick his next team. Per Rosenthal, Utley may not make an obvious decision. For example, he may or may not be interested in playing for his home town Giants. As was reported repeatedly over the past few days, Utley will seek to find a home where he’ll continue to play regularly both this season and next.

NL Notes: Lamb, Giants, Aoki, Reyes

Just-acquired lefty John Lamb will make his big league debut for the Reds tomorrow, the club announced. Lamb, 25, becomes the first player acquired in the Johnny Cueto deal to see the Cincinnati roster. The former top-100 prospect struggled to regain his form after Tommy John surgery, but had a sturdy 2014 and has been excellent thus far in 2015. Over 111 1/3 innings at Triple-A this year, he owns a 2.67 ERA with 9.5 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.

  • The Giants have topped the luxury tax limits with their 2015 payroll, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. San Francisco is nevertheless willing to tack on obligations to add Chase Utley (or, presumably, another option). Indeed, the team had already gone over $189MM when it dealt for Mike Leake. Because it’s the first time the Giants have cracked that ceiling, they will owe only a 17.5% tax on the overage, and are expected to avoid any such payments next season.
  • With his move to the DL, Giants outfielder Nori Aoki no longer has a realistic chance to reach 550 plate appearances, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News notes on Twitter. That means that his $5.5MM option for next season will lie solely in the club’s hands. It would’ve become a mutual option had Aoki reached the threshold.
  • Cardinals righty Alex Reyes has opened a lot of eyes inside and outside the organization, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. The 20-year-old just earned a promotion to Double-A after dominating the High-A level with a huge fastball and excellent breaking ball, putting up a 2.26 ERA with 13.6 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings. GM John Mozeliak said that he has actually not received many trade inquiries on Reyes, since other clubs seem to realize that the organization has no intentions of moving the youngster. Reyes shot up to 20th on MLB.com’s most recent prospect rankings based on his huge upside and encouraging results, though he still has plenty of polishing ahead of him.

NL Central Notes: Castro, Melvin, Counsell

Starlin Castro has lost his starting shortstop job to Addison Russell and is now facing a move to (or even a platoon role at) second base, but Castro is positive about his new position.  “Whatever helps the team win.  We don’t think about (ourselves). We think about us as a team,” Castro told reporters, including CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine.  “I just want to play.  I just want be in the lineup. It does not matter if it’s at second or shortstop.”  While there has been lots of speculation about Castro’s future with the Cubs, his agent Paul Kinzer said that “sometimes a change can help everyone.  When a team goes in a different direction, there are opportunities elsewhere. In that case, it doesn’t make anybody the bad guy. Starlin would hate to leave Chicago. The one thing he is adamant about is being a team player and not becoming a distraction to this very good team.”

Here’s more from around the NL Central…

  • Though he has experience in the Brewers front office, manager Craig Counsell told reporters (including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy) that he is “not a candidate” for the team’s vacant GM job.
  • Counsell’s job will likely remain safe no matter who takes over as Milwaukee’s GM, as owner Mark Attanasio made clear in yesterday’s comments to the media (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).  “We were very careful in making that manager choice. If somebody comes in and thinks they can come up with a better name, they would probably do that at their peril in the interview,” Attanasio said.
  • Outgoing Brewers general manager Doug Melvin ultimately lost his job due to three factors, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron writes in a piece for FOXSports.com.  The team didn’t draft well, they both gave away too much talent to acquire Zack Greinke and then didn’t recoup enough when dealing him away, and Milwaukee wasted a lot of at-bats on sub-replacement players.
  • With the Cardinals raking in the revenue, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests a few ways the club can spend some of that money this offseason and in years to come.  Re-signing Jason Heyward is a good fit, as is picking one of John Lackey or Jaime Garcia for next year’s rotation, and planning extensions for young core pieces like Kolten Wong, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and others.

No “Substantive” Extension Talks Between Cardinals, Jason Heyward

The Cardinals and Jason Heyward have yet to engage in any “substantive talks” about a contract extension, the outfielder tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  The Cards also haven’t applied any particular pressure to delve into negotiations, which is just how Heyward likes it:

“At this point, I think both sides are OK with that, OK with where things are right now.  Both sides want to make sure everybody is happy. That’s really what they’ve been asking me about the whole time. ‘Hey, you like it here? Hey, you comfortable?’ They want to make sure I feel at home, make sure I can be myself, and that’s been their focus. They’ve allowed me the time to fit in. That has meant a lot.”

It could be argued that the Cardinals haven’t pursued negotiations since Heyward isn’t in their future plans, though Goold writes that both the Cards’ ownership and front office is interested in a long-term deal.  While St. Louis hasn’t hesitated to let notable names such as Albert Pujols or Carlos Beltran leave in free agency over the years, the club has also moved to lock up other key players either just prior to free agency (e.g. Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright) or once they’ve actually hit the open market (i.e. Matt Holliday).

Goold cites the Holliday signing as similar to Heyward’s situation — a trade acquisition the Cards “wanted…to get to know the club first.”  It wouldn’t make much sense for Heyward to sign an extension this close to free agency, but he seems impressed enough by the Cardinals that he could lean towards re-signing this winter.

In his latest 2016 free agent power rankings, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes rated Heyward as the player with the second-most earning potential on the open market this offseason (behind only David Price).  While Heyward hasn’t developed into the star slugger many projected he would become, his still-solid bat, elite defense and youth (he turned 26 yesterday) could put him in line for an eight-year contract, which Dierkes estimates could be in the $180MM range.  That would easily be the most expensive contract in Cardinals history, far eclipsing Holliday’s seven-year, $120MM guaranteed deal from the 2009-10 offseason.