- Since 2010, the versatility-driven Cardinals have had no fewer than 20 players advance at a position more challenging or of a different discipline than the one they arrived playing, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch details. Among the group is Double-A backstop Carson Kelly, a 2012 second-round pick who shifted from third base to catcher in 2014 and will partake in Sunday’s Futures Game. “When you look at the modern game, there does seem to be a real value in having a roster with some flexibility,” general manager John Mozeliak told Goold. “Having multi-position players is a benefit.”
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak acknowledged that the idea of promoting Baseball America’s second-ranked prospect, Triple-A right-hander Alex Reyes, as a bullpen option is an enticing one. “So when you think about that type of tool set and putting it in the bullpen it’s certainly exciting,” Mozeliak told Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You’d be hard pressed to find that type of talent in the trade market and let alone (it would be a) zero acquisition cost.” On the other hand, the flame-throwing 21-year-old hasn’t totaled more than 116 1/3 frames in a season since joining the Cardinals organization in 2013, and they want him to accrue innings so he can help their rotation in 2017. “If all he ended up with is 75 innings what can we expect from him as a starter next year?” Mozeliak said. Reyes, who served a 50-game marijuana suspension to begin the season, has racked up 41 1/3 innings this year.
- Rosenthal begins the second video with a brief discussion of an article of his from earlier today about former Cardinals minor leaguer Cody Stanley, who has already received a 162-game suspension and expects to receive a lifetime ban for repeatedly testing positive for the steroid Turinabol. Stanley claims to not know why he keeps testing positive. “I will never apologize for something I didn’t do,” Stanley said in a statement. “We will not stop searching for why all of this has happened.” Chris Colabello of the Blue Jays, Alec Asher and Daniel Stumpf of the Phillies and Boog Powell of the Mariners have all tested positive for Turinabol and received suspensions, and all claim not to know what happened. “Who would be stupid enough to take the same steroid again?” Stanley asks Rosenthal.
- The Cardinals have announced that they’ve allowed outfielder Carlos Peguero to depart for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. They will receive cash considerations in return. The 29-year-old Peguero has played with the Mariners, Royals, Rangers and Red Sox in parts of five big-league seasons, but has never stuck, accumulating just 319 career plate appearances. He’s shown big power in the minors, though, with 95 home runs and a .277/.346/.520 in the equivalent of about three full seasons at Triple-A.
Jon Heyman kicks off his latest Inside Baseball column for FanRag sports by making a few predictions on some popular trade candidates. While he forecasts Sonny Gray to be the best pitcher that is seriously discussed in trades, he ultimately believes Gray will stay put, and teammate Rich Hill will be the top arm moved at this year’s non-waiver deadline. On the bullpen side of the equation, Aroldis Chapman has a “pretty good” chance to be moved, whereas teammate Andrew Miller was given a “less than one percent chance” to be traded by one Yankees-connected official, per Heyman.
A few of the more notable items from his lengthy column…
- Brad Ziegler, Daniel Hudson and Tyler Clippard are generating the most trade interest among D-backs players, per Heyman. Arizona considers Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and perhaps Brandon Drury to be among its untouchables in trade takes even if the club does elect to sell off some parts.
- The Marlins continue to hunt for starting pitching and have interest in Rays starters Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore but also recognize that they don’t have much in the way of prospect capital to offer up for controllable arms of that nature. Miami could turn to Jarred Cosart if a rotation alternative is needed, though Cosart is sporting a pretty pedestrian 3.92 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in eight starts (39 innings) since being demoted to the minors earlier this year.
- The Cardinals are considering a long-term deal for rising young right-hander Carlos Martinez, per Heyman, though there’s no indication of any serious talks between the two sides from his report. Martinez is a logical extension candidate as a 24-year-old former top prospect that has made good on that hype with a 2.97 ERA across his past 282 innings. However, he’s also on track to hit arbitration for the first time this offseason, which does eliminate some of the urgency to take a club-friendly deal from Martinez’s camp. That, of course, doesn’t mean that an agreement can’t be reached, but Martinez is already in line for a sizable payday this winter, and buying out free-agent seasons would be expensive considering the platform he’s in the midst of building.
- The Mariners could look to upgrade at closer in the coming weeks. Steve Cishek has been a nice pickup for the team (though he did blow a save tonight), but Joel Peralta didn’t pan out in Seattle and Joaquin Benoit has struggled. Heyman notes that GM Jerry Dipoto is a big fan of Angels setup man Joe Smith, which isn’t a big surprise considering Dipoto signed him to a three-year deal when he was the Halos’ GM. Smith, though, doesn’t really fit the description of the closer upgrade Heyman initially mentioned. That’s not meant to downplay Smith’s ability to help the Mariners, but I’d imagine a more powerful arm would be the type of target the club would pursue if looking to upgrade over Cishek.
- The Rays are getting quite a bit of interest in Moore, Odorizzi and Chris Archer, but there’s no sense that any of the three are available yet. Other teams do expect Tampa Bay to move at least one pitcher, though Heyman notes that it’s highly unlikely that Archer would be moved.
- The Rangers have exchanged numbers with Rougned Odor’s camp in extension talks, but the two sides aren’t believed to be close to a deal yet. Odor won’t be arbitration eligible until after the 2017 campaign, so he’s a ways off from his first significant salary. We’ve previously seen several second basemen in his service bracket — between two and three years of service once the season is up — sign extensions, so there are a fair number of comparables from which to draw. Brian Dozier signed away his arbitration year for a total of $20MM, while Matt Carpenter and Jason Kipnis each signed away their arb years and a pair of free-agent seasons for about $52MM in total, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Extension Tracker.
- The Blue Jays may try to add some left-handed pop and could be a landing spot for Jay Bruce, per Heyman. Toronto was known to be interested in Bruce back in Spring Training and even had a reported three-team trade with the Reds and Angels fall through after some medical reports on minor leaguers that were set to change hands derailed the deal. That, of course, looks quite fortuitous for the Blue Jays right now, as Michael Saunders would’ve gone to the Angels in that deal. The bullpen is also a likely area of focus for the Jays, he notes, which makes more sense than a run at Bruce, who doesn’t strike me as a great fit for their roster.
The Cardinals have placed star infielder Matt Carpenter on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain, the club announced. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by catcher Michael McKenry, whose contract will be purchased.
[Related: Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]
Things weren’t looking good from the moment Carpenter walked off the field clutching his side last night, as the club sent signals that there was significant concern. His timeline remains unknown, and will obviously depend upon how he progresses, but this is the sort of injury that will need to fully clear up before a player can attempt a rehab assignment.
St. Louis has now lost two huge bats from its lineup in short succession. First baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss is also out with an ankle injury. Both rate among the top 15 players in the National League by measure of wRC+ (minimum 250 plate appearances). That’s quite a bit off offense to strip out of a lineup, even if one or both can return without lengthy absences.
Fortunately for the Cards, other developments over the course of the year will help to fill the void. Aledmys Diaz has emerged as a quality option at short, while Jhonny Peralta is back (though he has been dealing with pain in his surgically-repaired thumb). Kolten Wong and Jedd Gyorko remain on hand, though neither has been particularly productive, while Matt Adams has been plenty capable at the plate at first.
The situation behind the dish is another area of concern, though, as the club recently lost Eric Fryer on waivers when it brought back reserve Bryan Pena. Now the latter has returned to the DL, leaving first-time big leaguer Alberto Rosario as the back-up to Yadier Molina. Now McKenry will help bolster that unit. He’s not well-regarded with the glove, but has shown life with the bat and owns a useful .301/.424/.569 batting line in 151 Triple-A plate appearances on the year.
- Santana wasn’t the only starter of note in that contest, as Athletics righty Sonny Gray was also on the bump. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the match-up drew attention from quite a few scouts, with representatives from the Blue Jays, Royals, Orioles, Marlins and Cardinals among those in attendance to see the two potential trade candidates throw. Oakland skipper Bob Melvin said that he felt Gray may be turning a corner after the showing, in which he battled through six innings with only one earned run on the board. Gray did allow four walks, but worked through some tough spots and, in Melvin’s words, “found a little of his mojo.” With Gray showing some life and the A’s continuing to muddle through the season, Slusser says that some rival executives feel there’s daylight for a deal on Oakland’s staff ace. There’s little question that the Twins would at least be open to moving Santana, and he’d represent a less costly addition for those organizations in need of rotation help (on the prospect side of the equation, at least; his contractual obligations would need to be worked out).
- Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter left tonight’s game with what has been diagnosed as an oblique strain, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was among those to report (Twitter links). He’s headed for an immediate assessment of the injury as the team seeks to get out ahead of things, and manager Mike Matheny says there’s a “high level of concern.” It’s obviously not possible to assess how much time he might miss at this point, let alone whether a DL stint will be required, but the manner in which the Cards are proceeding suggests some pessimism. St. Louis just lost Brandon Moss, so it’s not an optimal time for another position player to be dealing with an injury issue.
- Meanwhile, Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena is headed to the DL with knee inflammation not long after being activated, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports on Twitter. 11-year minor-league veteran Alberto Rosario will get his first big league call to replace Pena as the backup receiver, but that’s probably not what St. Louis was hoping for. The team recently lost Eric Fryer on waivers while attempting to outright him to clear space for Pena.
The Cardinals have placed slugger Brandon Moss on the 15-day DL with an ankle injury, per a team announcement. He’ll be replaced by Randal Grichuk, who had been working out some kinks at the Triple-A level on optional assignment.
[Related: Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]
Moss has been fantastic this year after a down 2015 campaign, swatting 17 home runs and posting a strong .251/.340/.562 slash over 250 plate appearances. St. Louis has utilized him at first base and the corner outfield, making him a reasonably versatile piece as well. Though Moss doesn’t add value with the glove, he has been a major contributor for St. Louis.
It’s not yet clear how long Moss will be out, but the injury doesn’t sound terribly significant and he’ll get to rest up over the All-Star break. St. Louis will miss the bat, of course, but it has options on hand to pick up the slack.
Matt Adams has enjoyed a nice bounceback season as well, and figures to take the bulk of the load at first base. And Grichuk is a better call-up candidate than most teams have handy for the outfield, though he’ll need to effect his own recovery after a difficult first half.
Grichuk entered the year as the Cards’ regular center fielder, fresh off of a highly-promising season. But he’s been nearly half as productive at the plate as he was in 2015, slashing just .206/.276/.392 over 225 plate appearances. Since being demoted, the 24-year-old has hit for plenty of power in his fifty turns at the plate at Triple-A. But he still ran up a meager .280 on-base percentage and will need to continue to develop in that area if he’s to regain a regular role.
The Cardinals have endured their share of bullpen woes this season, with closer Trevor Rosenthal’s demotion and control problems looming large among the team’s relief troubles. St. Louis has also seen Kevin Siegrist diagnosed with mononucleosis, and right-hander Jordan Walden has yet to throw a pitch for the big league club this season. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch spoke to general manager John Mozeliak, and Goold writes that while the GM said he has not yet been “knee-deep” in the market for relievers, the Cardinals are indeed surveying the market.
Goold lists D-backs right-hander Brad Ziegler as a potential option for the Cards and also notes that Yankees lefty Andrew Miller has been of interest to the Cardinals in the past, though demand for Miller would of course be extreme and the asking price figures to be exorbitant. It’s not entirely clear that either will be available, as D-backs GM Dave Stewart has expressed interest in extending Ziegler, while the Yankees haven’t given any indication of selling just yet and control Miller for another two seasons at a reasonable rate.
Mozeliak did voice some confidence that the club would eventually have a healthier Siegrist to help the relief corps, and he acknowledged top prospect Alex Reyes as “the most dynamic thing that we could add to this club with the least acquisition cost, for sure.” Optioning Rosenthal to sort out his control issues isn’t yet on the Cardinals’ radar, per Mozeliak, although as Goold points out the club hasn’t been afraid to take that type of measure with either Kolten Wong or Randal Grichuk this season.
If the Cardinals do ultimately decide that the trade market is the best avenue by which to upgrade its relief contingent, there will be no shortage of options available. A number of the players listed on Jeff Todd’s most recent collection of the league’s top 20 trade candidates are of the relief variety, as are several of the 10 under-the-radar trade candidates he profiled just yesterday. While a number of clubs haven’t yet made a firm determination as to whether they’ll be buyers or sellers on the summer trade market, the Padres and Braves have already sold off big league pieces, while the Twins, Phillies, Brewers, Reds, Athletics and Angels could all follow suit to varying degrees in the weeks leading up to the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline. The Cardinals don’t always dive headfirst into the trade market with high-profile additions, but the team has a history of adding bullpen pieces as necessary. In recent years, St. Louis has added pieces such as Jonathan Broxton, John Axford and Steve Cishek on the summer trade market.
In light of Rosenthal’s struggles, offseason signee Seung-hwan Oh has been shifted into the closer’s role. They’ve also received quality innings from right-handers Broxton and Matt Bowman as well as lefties Siegrist and Tyler Lyons. Regardless, there’s room for some improvement, as the team’s overall bullpen has a 3.78 ERA that is weighted heavily by Oh’s dominant 1.71 ERA.